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KY Appeals Court Finds Civil Claims Arising from Denial of Zone Map Amendment were Not Viable

This post was authored by Matthew Loescher, Esq.

Representatives of the City of Paris, Kentucky, applied for a zoning map amendment to rezone the 47 acres of property from a conservation district to light industrial. The Paris City Commission and its representatives entered into a non-disclosure deal with a prospective corporate purchaser to conceal its identity. A bourbon distillery was to be built on the property, but the local Planning and Zoning Commission held a hearing during which evidence was presented, and then voted six to three to deny the zone map amendment. The Planning Commission was overruled by a unanimous vote by the City. The Bourbon Circuit Court afterward issued a judgment in the Residents’ favor, thereby abrogating the City’s ordinance adopting the map amendment. The court specifically found that the City’s decision was not supported by substantial evidence, and that the Appellees were denied due process.

The record reflected that the City issued thirty-three findings of fact in support of the ordinance authorizing the zoning amendment. As due process, the Residents and their counsel were permitted to voice their concerns at a lengthy hearing before the Planning Commission, and there was no indication that the City failed to consider the Commission’s record and recommendation. The Residents further claimed that the circuit court erroneously granted summary judgment in the City’s favor because they were entitled to discovery concerning their civil rights claims, that the court erred in concluding the City was entitled to legislative immunity, and also erred in concluding that their civil rights claims were not viable. As the court agreed with the circuit court that the civil rights claims were not viable, it did not address discovery or immunity.

Paris City Commissioner v Vance, 2023 WL 323727 (KY App. 1/20/2023)