Green v. Brown v. Weber County

July 3, 2014

Utah Court of Appeals

2014 UT App 155

July 3, 2014  (Full Text of Green v. Brown v. Weber County)

The Utah Court of Appeals confirmed that the time to appeal a land use decision begins to run from the date that a person receives actual or constructive notice of the decision.

Brown and Green own adjoining lots in a subdivision.  Both lots adjoin a public street, but the subdivision plat grants a 15-foot easement to the Green’s lot, which crosses the rear of Brown’s lot.  The Greens obtained a building permit for a house, and they wished to use the easement as their primary access.  Weber County issued the permit in March of 2010.

There were discussions between the owners about the easement, including installation of utility lines, during the summer of 2010.  On August 2, 2010, Brown received an email from Green, which stated that the Greens intended to use the easement as a driveway. The County did not object to this arrangement, and construction apparently began.

In September, Brown approached the County with concerns about the driveway.  On September 24, 2010, Brown received a copy of the building permit.  On October 7, Brown sent a letter to the County asking for an investigation into the permit.  The County responded on October 27, concluding that the permit was valid, and that Greens were entitled to the easement.

On November 9, 2010, Brown filed an appeal with the County Board of Adjustment.  The Board concluded that the appeal was untimely, because it had been filed more than 15 days after Brown had been given a copy of the permit.  On appeal, the Second District Court agreed with the Board of Adjustment.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.  Under the County’s ordinances, Brown had 15 days to appeal the issuance of the permit.  The latest date that Brown could have appealed was 15 days after September 24, 2010.  The Court rejected Brown’s argument that the October 27 letter from the County was the final action on the permit, and that the appeal period began then.  The Court also rejected the argument that since the permit was issued without authority (ie., was invalid from the start), the appeal period could not have started.

To conclude, the Court’s decision is consistent with other appellate decisions upholding the very short appeal periods found the in Land Use, Development, and Management Acts.