Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lack of Findings by Planning Comm: Constitutional Violation!

In an interesting new case from Idaho, the Idaho Supreme Court concluded that the failure of the Zoning Commission (this involves a subdivision application, so this is a planning commission under Tennessee law) to make express findings of fact and conclusions of law sufficient to enable judicial review, was a violation of procedural due process of the neighbors who appealed the decision granting the subdivision approval. The case, Jasso v. Camas Ctny., 2011 WL 5299710 (Idaho 11/02/11), is an interesting illustration of a constitutional violation where the administrative tribunal failed to follow statutory requirements. By the Way, Tennessee has similar statutory requirements for planning commissions requiring findings of fact, although not for zoning boards.

This case suggests that if a neighbor files suit based at least in part on a failure of the administrative tribunal to make findings of fact and conclusions of law, that there might be a constitutional violation, and under Tennessee law, not only might you be able to obtain attorneys fees under the Tennessee Equal Access to Justice Act, TCA §29-37-101 et seq., but in addition, you might be able to sue under the Federal Civil Rights Attorneys Fees Act, 42 USC §1988.

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