New Case Summary – Springdale Lodging v. Springdale

May 31, 2024

Utah Court of Appeals

2024 UT App 83 (May 31, 2024) (click for full text of opinion)

In remanding the district court ’s dismissal of a property owner’s challenge of a rezone denial, the Utah Court of Appeals found that the district court misconstrued state law provisions that were applicable only to judicial review of administrative decisions, and not legislative decisions like rezoning. 

This case reiterates the important distinction in land use between administrative decisions by a land use authority and legislative decisions by the legislative body, and the different provisions under Utah’s Land Use, Development, and Management Act (LUDMA) that apply to each. 

The Utah Court of Appeals echoed established state law that the decision to grant or deny an application for a zoning change is a legislative decision. At issue was the district court’s decision to exclude from evidence an attorney’s affidavit that purported to establish that the applicant was not afforded adequate opportunity to speak in support of the rezone application. The district court had concluded that the affidavit was precluded by Utah Code Section 10-9a-801(8), which prohibits a court from considering evidence outside the record of the land use authority. The Utah Court of Appeals concluded that this applies only to the record for administrative land use decisions before a land use authority, an administrative body, and not legislative decisions by the legislative body such as the rezone in question. 

In reviewing a challenged land use regulation, such as a rezone decision, the Utah Court of Appeals reasoned that a district court’s inquiry is twofold: first, procedural correctness as to whether the regulation was properly enacted, and second, whether the decision was substantively proper as not enacted contrary to state or federal law. Because failure to strictly follow procedural statutory requirements in enacting a land use ordinance renders it invalid, the Utah Court of Appeals remanded back to district court to consider the attorney’s affidavit to answer the question of whether procedural public hearing requirements had been satisfied in the denial.