CITY OF RICHLAND LOSES ZONING DISPUTE

In an important property rights and zoning case handled by our firm, the Mississippi Supreme Court yesterday unanimously affirmed the Mississippi Court of Appeal’s reversal of a zoning resolution passed by the City of Richland. In this case we represented Cleveland Mobile Home Community. The appeal was the result of an unconstitutional ordinance passed by the City of Richland in an effort to shut down the mobile home community. In April 2008, the City of Richland passed a resolution stating that anytime a mobile home was moved out of the park, the space could not be re-used or re-rented. So the effect of the ordinance was to gradually reduce the revenue so that Cleveland MHC would be forced out of business. On behalf of Cleveland MHC, we appealed the City’s actions through a Bill of Exceptions to the Rankin County Circuit Court. In response, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen argued that their resolution was proper under the City’s zoning ordinance, and that it was a valid exercise of the City’s police powers. The Circuit Court upheld City’s actions. We then appealed the case to the Mississippi Court of Appeals who ruled 9-1 that the attempt to destroy the Mobile Home Community by attrition was “arbitrary, capricious, and illegal.” The City of Richland then requested the case be reviewed by the Mississippi Supreme Court because the case presented a matter of first impression in Mississippi. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted the requested review. However, in the opinion handed down yesterday, the Mississippi Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the Court of Appeals finding that Richland’s actions appeared to be without reason...

MISSISSIPPI SUPREME COURT TO REVIEW IMPORTANT PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS DECISION

Our firm has had the privilege of representing the owners of the Cleveland Mobile Home Community (“Cleveland MHC”) against the City of Richland’s attempt to amortize the mobile home park out of existence. Cleveland MHC is a mobile home community consisting of 138 concrete pads which are rented to mobile home owners. Cleveland MHC also has spaces for seventeen campers or recreational vehicles (RVs). The Cleveland Mobile Home Community Because the Cleveland MHC property is located in an industrial zone, the use of the property as a residential community is a legal nonconforming use. Cleveland MHC had operated as a legal nonconforming use for more than 50 years until the City of Richland decided to prohibit Cleveland MHC from continuing to use any concrete mobile home pad once it became vacant. The purpose of the City of Richland’s action was to eliminate the residential use of the property without paying any compensation to the private property owner. On behalf of the owners of Cleveland MHC, our firm appealed the action taken by the City of Richland to the Circuit Court of Rankin County. The Circuit Court ruled in favor of the City of Richland. Thereafter, Cleveland MHC appealed that ruling to the Mississippi Court of Appeals. In the subsequent briefs filed for Cleveland MHC, we argued that: (1) Cleveland MHC had a vested right to continue its nonconforming use of the property; (2) Cleveland MHC’s continued placement of mobile homes on the property is a permissible continuation of the nonconforming use of the property; (3) the City of Richland’s interpretation of its zoning ordinance was arbitrary, capricious, and illegal;...