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Thread: Vested development plan?

  1. #1

    Vested development plan?

    a national hotel chain signs all its contracts and begins construction. in the meantime, the planning board decides to reduce heights of buildings (below the height of the hotel's plans) and this is applicable to any building not yet completed. the hotel chain descends on city hall and threatens to sue. what is the planner to do? any advice, legal recourse, etc. would be very appreciated. please email or post a reply message. thank you very much to anyone who can help.

  2. #2

    need advice!

    If they submitted anything like a development plan in application of any type of permit, then they are presumed to be "vested" under the regulations in place at the time of the application. Anything done after that cannot be retroactive, meaning that the "anything not yet completed" clause does put your planning commission in jepardy of having a judgement against them.

    The correct place to draw the line should be, any permit applied for after the official enactment of the ordinance must comply to the new standards, everything prior to that is permitted under the old regime.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Feb 1998
    Greensburg, Kansas

    need advice!

    Linden is right. If one has a valid permit to build, construction can be completed. Often state statutes detail when a project is vested. I caught one phrase in your message--'the planning board decides.' In all the states I have worked, the governing body alone has authority to amend the regulations, the planning board recommends.

  4. #4

    need advice!

    The rules in place when their site plans, building plans, or development plans are applied for are the rules that apply to them. Any changes made after that date would not.

    It sounds like in your case, those plans were not just applied for, but were actually approved if construction had already started. That approval would stand, unless you can find some reason why they were approved in error. Even then, if construction to date is fairly far along, it may be too late to make significant changes to the plans.

    The only way the new rules would apply is if they made a new application, even for the same building, and were re-reviewed for compliance with the new rules, and then were approved under those rules.

    Good luck

  5. #5
    Feb 2003
    San Diego, CA

    need advice!

    I'll agree with this. It depends on what the vesting language states. If there's a discretionary permit for the hotel, it could be in the permit language. If not, it's probably either in the local zoning ordinance or in state statute.

    Either way, if it's vested, attempting to lower the level now amounts to an ex post facto law and they are, or course, unconstitutional. It doesn't sound to me like there's a thing this jurisdiction can do unless they've got some seriously weird ordinance about something not being vested until it's completed.

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