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Parris v. City of Rapid City

Supreme Court of South Dakota

July 10, 2013

TRACY PARRIS, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
CITY OF RAPID CITY, a Municipal Corporation of the State of South Dakota, Defendant and Appellee.

ARGUED FEBRUARY 12, 2013

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT PENNINGTON COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA, THE HONORABLE JOHN J. DELANEY Retired Judge, THE HONORABLE WALLY EKLUND Judge

MICHAEL K. SABERS of Clayborne, Loos & Sabers, LLP Rapid City, South Dakota Attorneys for plaintiff and appellant.

TIMOTHY J. BECKER of Banks, Johnson, Kappelman & Becker, PLLC Rapid City, South Dakota Attorneys for defendant and appellee.

SEVERSON, Justice

[¶1.] Property owner, Tracy Parris (Parris), sought to expand the buildings on his property. To do so, Parris asked the City of Rapid City (the City) to rezone a portion of his property zoned within the Flood Hazard Zoning District. The request was denied. The City also denied Parris' building permits, in part, because the proposed expansion extended to a portion of his property zoned within the Flood Hazard Zoning District. Parris unsuccessfully appealed the City's denial of his permits to the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Parris then filed a complaint with the circuit court, which included: a writ of certiorari, a request for declaratory judgment, a writ of mandamus, a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and a state constitutional claim. After Parris filed suit, the City agreed to extend the non-Flood Hazard portion of Parris' Lot Five to the 500-year floodplain. In 2006, the circuit court denied Parris' writ of certiorari but Parris' additional claims remained. Shortly thereafter, the litigation was stayed until 2008. In July 2008, the City filed for summary judgment on Parris' remaining claims. In 2012, the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the City. Parris appeals. We affirm.

Background

[¶2.] Parris owned and resided on property adjacent to Rapid Creek and upstream of Canyon Lake in Rapid City. Parris purchased the 7.76 acre property in November 2002. The property included two buildings. Both buildings were constructed in 1988 by the previous property owner. At the closest point, the buildings were separated by twenty feet. Beginning in 2003, Parris sought to begin a two-phase construction project. The first phase would expand the smaller two-story building, and the second phase would connect the buildings.

[¶3.] In September 2003, Parris began to excavate and clear land on his property with the goal of expanding his second building. In March 2005, Parris filed a rezone application with the City Council, asking that the City rezone portions of his property that were within the Flood Hazard Zoning District. Specifically, Parris requested that the City rezone Lot Five of his property. The City Council denied Parris' rezone request in August 2005.

[¶4.] Parris also filed building permits with the City, which were denied in February 2006. The City denied the permits, in part, because the proposed expansion crossed into the Flood Hazard Zoning District. Parris appealed the denial of his permits to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (the Zoning Board). Parris argued that portions of his property were improperly and illegally zoned within the Flood Hazard Zoning District. The Zoning Board considered Parris' appeal at a hearing held March 7, 2006. The Board denied Parris' appeal in a 5-0 vote.

[¶5.] On April 4, 2006, Parris filed a complaint with the circuit court, which included: a writ of certiorari under SDCL 11-4-26, a request for declaratory judgment, a writ of mandamus, a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and a state constitutional claim. In May 2006, the City partially granted Parris' rezone request, which would enable him to build to the 500-year floodplain on Lot Five. The zoning adjustment to Parris' Lot Five was set forth in Rapid City Ordinance 5151. The City then moved to dismiss Parris' writ of certiorari. The circuit court granted the City's motion and dismissed the writ of certiorari in September 2006. A few months later, the litigation was stayed. The stay remained in place until over a year later in March 2008. In July 2008, the City filed for summary judgment on Parris' remaining claims. In March 2012, the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the City. Parris appeals.

[¶6.] To address Parris' arguments, we must also consider the history of the floodway zoning surrounding Rapid Creek, which is adjacent to Parris' property. In June 1972, Rapid City suffered a devastating flood.[1] Following the flood, the City took steps to minimize future flood damage by establishing a 100-year floodplain boundary and a 500-year floodplain boundary surrounding Rapid Creek.

[¶7.] In 1975, the City set forth the specific boundaries of the Floodway Zoning District (later renamed the Flood Hazard Zoning District) by passing Ordinance 1522. In doing so, the City used straight lines and lot lines rather than the actual floodplain boundaries. Accordingly, the Floodway Zoning District was more expansive than the boundaries of the 500-year floodplain. Because of this, on request, the City allowed property owners to rezone portions of their property that were outside of the actual floodplain but labeled within the Floodway Zoning District. It is under this policy that Parris' predecessor in interest was allowed to rezone lots two through four of Parris' property.

[¶8.] However, the City's general rezone policy changed in 1992 based on the findings of the Floodplain Boundary Committee (the Committee). The Committee found that during the 1972 flood, much of the debris that caused damage came from property upstream of Canyon Lake. Specifically, the Committee recommended undertaking a policy (the Policy) that would deny property owners' requests to rezone floodplain areas upstream of Chapel Lane Bridge between the 100-year and 500-year floodplains. However, property owners downstream of Chapel Lane Bridge would be allowed to rezone floodplain property between the ...


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