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Law School Case Brief

Chrismon v. Guilford Cty. - 322 N.C. 611, 370 S.E.2d 579 (1988)

Rule:

The practice of conditional use zoning is an approved practice in North Carolina, so long as the action of the local zoning authority in accomplishing the zoning is reasonable, neither arbitrary nor unduly discriminatory, and in the public interest.

Facts:

The adjoining landowner sold a parcel to the landowners, upon which the latter constructed a home. Throughout this time, the landowner carried out grain drying and storing and the sale and distribution of agricultural chemicals from his property across the street, which was zoned A-1 Agricultural. When the adjoining landowner expanded his business operations to additional land he owned next to the landowners, the landowners filed a complaint with the county inspections department. As a result, the adjoining landowner was informed that his tract constituted an impermissible expansion of a nonconforming use. The landowner successfully sought a conditional use permit.

Issue:

Did the trial court commit reversible error in affirming the validity of the rezoning in question?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The court held 1) while the rezoning admittedly constituted a form of spot zoning, it was legal because there was a reasonable basis for the county's action--the degree of public benefit created by the zoning action and the similarity of the proposed use of the tracts under the new conditional use zone to the uses in the surrounding areas; and 2) the zoning was not illegal contract zoning because the zoning authority neither entered into a bilateral contract nor abandoned its position as an independent decision-maker.

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