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An applicant is entitled to a building permit or subdivision approval if his proposed development meets the zoning requirements in existence at the time of his application and if he proceeds with reasonable diligence, absent a compelling, countervailing public interest. Furthermore, if a city or county has initiated proceedings to amend its zoning ordinances, a landowner who subsequently makes application for a permit is not entitled to rely on the original zoning classification.
The developer purchased property within the city to use for moderately priced single-family housing. The property was zoned for manufacturing with single-family dwellings permitted. The city rejected the developer's subdivision proposal on the grounds that it was contrary to the land use ordinance and to the city's master plan, the access roads were inadequate, and the location of the railroad made it an inappropriate site for housing. The city subsequently enacted a change in its zoning ordinance that became effective as applied to the developer's property. The district court found that the developers had a vested right to develop the proposed subdivision. On appeal, the city argued that the planning commission was justified in its disapproval of the project because of its undesirable or nonconforming aspects.
Was the planning commission justified in its disapproval of the project?
The court held that an applicant was entitled to a building permit or subdivision approval if the proposal met the zoning requirements in existence at the time of the application and if he proceeded with reasonable diligence and there was no compelling, countervailing public interest. The city did not have a compelling reason for withholding approval.