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Law School Case Brief

State ex rel Stoyanoff v. Berkeley - 458 S.W.2d 305 (Mo. 1970)

Rule:

In the matter of enacting zoning ordinances and the procedures for determining whether any certain proposed structure or use is in compliance with or offends the basic ordinance, it is well settled that courts will not substitute their judgments for the city's legislative body, if the result is not oppressive, arbitrary, or unreasonable and does not infringe upon a valid preexisting nonconforming use.

Facts:

Stoyanoff sought to build a house that is highly modernistic and unusual in design “but complied with all existing building and zoning regulations and ordinances of the City of Ladue, Missouri”. The Architectural Board examined the application to determine if it conformed to proper architectural standards in appearance and design and found the home was not in conformity with the style and design of surrounding structures, and refused to issue the building permit.

Issue:

Was the city government’s delegation of authority without specific standards to a non-elected Architectural Board constitutional?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court held that in the matter of enacting zoning ordinances and the procedures for determining whether any certain proposed structure or use was in compliance with or offended the basic ordinance, the court would not substitute its judgment for the city's legislative body if the result was not oppressive, arbitrary, or unreasonable and did not infringe upon a valid preexisting nonconforming use. The court held that the denial of a building permit for the applicants' highly modernistic residence in the traditional area did not appear to be arbitrary and unreasonable when the basic purpose to be served was that of the general welfare of persons in the entire community.

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