Eagle Container v. County of Newberry, No. 4037.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtAnderson
Citation622 S.E.2d 733
PartiesEAGLE CONTAINER CO., LLC and Jeffrey D. Spotts, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Alfred D. Spotts, Respondents, v. COUNTY OF NEWBERRY, a political subdivision, and Susie Berry, in her capacity as Zoning Administrator of Newberry County, Appellants.
Docket NumberNo. 4037.
Decision Date15 December 2005

Page 733

622 S.E.2d 733
EAGLE CONTAINER CO., LLC and Jeffrey D. Spotts, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Alfred D. Spotts, Respondents,
v.
COUNTY OF NEWBERRY, a political subdivision, and Susie Berry, in her capacity as Zoning Administrator of Newberry County, Appellants.
No. 4037.
Court of Appeals of South Carolina.
Heard October 12, 2005.
Decided October 31, 2005.
Rehearing Denied December 15, 2005.

Page 734

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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Hardwick Stuart, Jr., of Columbia, for Appellants.

Thomas H. Pope, III, of Newberry, for Respondents.

B. Michael Brackett, of Columbia, for Amicus Curiae Citizens for Responsive Government, Inc.

ANDERSON, J.:


Newberry County appeals the trial court's order granting Eagle Container's summary judgment motion to reinstate Eagle Container's landfill permit based on the interpretation of an amending ordinance. We affirm.

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FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On December 5, 2001, the County of Newberry adopted the Newberry County Zoning Ordinance No. 12-24-01 ("Zoning Ordinance"). The Zoning Ordinance requires a zoning permit before any building, sign, or structure is erected, constructed, reconstructed, or structurally altered. The Zoning Administrator issues permits provided they are for uses "in conformity with the provision of [the Zoning Ordinance] or for a use authorized by order of the Board of Zoning Appeals."

Article 3 of the Zoning Ordinance establishes zoning districts and lists the general purposes for each zoning district. Section 301 provides R-2 Rural Districts "require large parcels for uses, allow rural and residential uses, including manufactured homes on individual lots, agricultural and related uses, ranching, recreation and hunting, a variety of governmental service uses, and limited business uses."

Article 5 sets forth the zoning district regulations. Section 500 classifies three types of uses for the zoning districts as follows:

1. Permitted Uses: Permitted uses listed in the District Use Tables in this division are permitted outright.

2. Conditional Uses: Conditional uses in the District Use Tables are permitted by the Zoning Administrator without further review upon compliance with the conditions specified in the tables.

3. Special Exceptions: Special exceptions are permitted after review and approval by the Board of Zoning Appeals upon compliance with the general conditions in the regulations. . . .

Prior to December 11, 2002, the Zoning Ordinance listed construction and demolition landfills ("C & D landfills") under "special exception" uses in R-2 Rural Districts. Pursuant to section 501, a C & D landfill would be permitted as a "special exception" in R-2 Rural Districts:

[P]rovided the Board of Zoning Appeals determines:

(1) Approvals shall be conditioned on the applicant receiving all state and federal approvals;

(2) All uses are a minimum of 1,000 feet from adjoining property lines;

(3) The use would not constitute a safety hazard or traffic hazard;

(4) The use is not detrimental to adjacent land uses in the vicinity.

On November 6, 2002, the first reading of Ordinance No. 12-49-02 ("amending ordinance") occurred. The minutes of Newberry County Council for November 6, 2002, provide:

Mr. Waldrop asked Ms. Bridges to explain [Ordinance No. 12-49-02].

Susan Bridges, Planning/Zoning Director, stated that on page 31 of the Zoning Ordinance, which is the list of Special Exception Uses in R-2, you will see landfill is listed as a permitted use under the Special Exceptions; however, when you look in Article 3, 301, you will see it is not listed there at all under the R-2 Rural Districts. This has been a source of confusion for some applicants who were interested in finding out what was permitted in R-2 and where in particular landfills were permitted. We thought it might need to be added as a clarification only. It is not adding to the use to the district; the district already has that use as a Special Exception.

On November 20, 2002, the second reading of the amending ordinance occurred. The Council minutes provide then-acting Zoning Director, Susan Bridges, was asked to "tell Council in layman's language exactly what doing [sic] [with the amending ordinance]." The Council minutes read:

Susan Bridges, Planning/Zoning Director, pointed out Article 3, Section 301, District Purpose. There is a list of designing districts all established by the Ordinance and after them is basically a statement of purpose and a list of some of the major uses that are permitted in each of those districts. The R-2 Rural District actually does allow landfills. If you will look in the list of permitted uses in R-2 Rural District, it is listed as a special exception use

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that requires Board of Zoning Appeals hearing. The approval for landfills shall be conditioned on the applicant receiving all state and federal approvals, all uses are a minimum of 1,000 feet from adjoining property lines, the use would not constitute a safety hazard or traffic hazard, and the use is not detrimental to adjacent land uses in the vicinity. The Board of Zoning Appeals would have to hold a public hearing and find for all four of those factors before they could grant permission for a permit to be issued to an applicant.

On December 11, 2002, the Council adopted Ordinance No. 12-49-02 which provides:

WHEREAS, Ordinance No. 12-24-01 permits various uses in R-2 Rural Districts; and

WHEREAS, landfills should be allowed in the R-2 Rural District.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED AS FOLLOWS:

Article 3, Section 301 is amended to add text "landfill" to the uses permitted in R-2 Rural District. The text is added to the Newberry County Zoning Ordinance. . . ."

On June 2, 2003, Eagle Container Co., LLC applied for a permit from the County of Newberry to build a C & D landfill on property in an R-2 Rural District of Newberry County. Susan Berry, then-acting Newberry County Zoning Administrator, initially approved Eagle Container's application. On June 4, 2003, Newberry County revoked Eagle Container's permit "on the ground that it was erroneously issued."

Eagle Container commenced a declaratory judgment action on June 17, 2003, seeking an order rescinding the revocation of their landfill permit and reinstating their permit as originally approved. Additionally, Eagle Container petitioned for a writ of mandamus to compel issuance of a permit for the subject site. Eagle Container and Newberry County filed cross motions for summary judgment. The trial court found Eagle Container was entitled to judgment as a matter of law and denied Newberry County's subsequent motion to reconsider.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When reviewing the grant of a summary judgment motion, the appellate court applies the same standard which governs the trial court under Rule 56(c) SCRCP: summary judgment is proper when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Pittman v. Grand Strand Entm't, Inc., 363 S.C. 531, 611 S.E.2d 922 (2005); B & B Liquors, Inc. v. O'Neil, 361 S.C. 267, 603 S.E.2d 629 (Ct.App.2004). In determining whether any triable issue of fact exists, the evidence and all inferences which can reasonably be drawn therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Medical Univ. of South Carolina v. Arnaud, 360 S.C. 615, 602 S.E.2d 747 (2004); Rife v. Hitachi Constr. Mach. Co., Ltd., 363 S.C. 209, 609 S.E.2d 565 (Ct.App.2005). If triable issues exist, those issues must go to the jury. Mulherin-Howell v. Cobb, 362 S.C. 588, 608 S.E.2d 587 (Ct.App.2005).

Summary judgment is appropriate if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(c), SCRCP; Helms Realty, Inc. v. Gibson-Wall Co., 363 S.C. 334, 611 S.E.2d 485 (2005); BPS, Inc. v. Worthy, 362 S.C. 319, 608 S.E.2d 155 (Ct.App.2005). On appeal from an order granting summary judgment, the appellate court will review all ambiguities, conclusions, and inferences arising in and from the evidence in a light most favorable to the non-moving party below. Willis v. Wu, 362 S.C. 146, 607 S.E.2d 63 (2004); see also Schmidt v. Courtney, 357 S.C. 310, 592 S.E.2d 326 (Ct.App.2003) (stating that all ambiguities, conclusions, and inferences arising from the evidence must be construed most strongly against the moving party).

Summary judgment is not appropriate where further inquiry into the facts of the case is desirable to clarify the application of the law. Gadson v. Hembree, 364 S.C. 316, 613 S.E.2d 533 (2005); Montgomery v. CSX Transp., Inc., 362 S.C. 529, 608 S.E.2d 440 (Ct.App.2004). Even when there is no dispute

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as to evidentiary facts, but only as to the conclusions or inferences to be drawn from them, summary judgment should be denied. Nelson v. Charleston County Parks & Recreation Comm'n, 362 S.C. 1, 605 S.E.2d 744 (Ct.App.2004). However, when plain, palpable, and indisputable facts exist on which reasonable minds cannot differ, summary judgment should be granted. Ellis v. Davidson, 358 S.C. 509, 595 S.E.2d 817 (Ct.App.2004). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of clearly establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. McCall v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 359 S.C. 372, 597 S.E.2d 181 (Ct.App.2004). Once the party moving for summary judgment meets the initial burden of showing an absence of evidentiary support for the opponent's case, the opponent cannot simply rest on mere allegations or denials contained in the pleadings. Regions Bank v. Schmauch, 354 S.C. 648, 582 S.E.2d 432 (Ct.App.2003). The nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Rife, 363 S.C. at 214, 609 S.E.2d at 568.

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15 practice notes
  • Bennett v. Investors Title Ins. Co., No. 4152.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 25, 2006
    ...Dep't of Corrections, 368 S.C. 424, 434, 629 S.E.2d 642, 648 (2006); Eagle Container Co., LLC v. County of Newberry, 366 S.C. 611, 620, 622 S.E.2d 733, 737 (Ct.App.2005). If triable issues exist, those issues must go the jury. Mulherin-Howell 370 S.C. 588 v. Cobb, 362 S.C. 588, 595, 608 S.E......
  • Moore v. Weinberg, No. 4209.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 20, 2007
    ...Grand Strand Entm't, Inc., 363 S.C. 531, 536, 611 S.E.2d 922, 925 (2005); Eagle Container Co., LLC v. County of Newberry, 366 S.C. 611, 622 S.E.2d 733 (Ct.App. 2005); B & B Liquors, Inc. v. O'Neil, 361 S.C. 267, 603 S.E.2d 629 (Ct.App.2004). In determining whether any triable issue of fact ......
  • Singleton v. Sherer, No. 4346.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 25, 2008
    ...Henderson v. Allied Signal, Inc., 373 S.C. 179, 644 S.E.2d 724 (2007); Eagle Container Co., LLC v. County of Newberry, 366 S.C. 611, 622 S.E.2d 733 (Ct.App.2005); B & B Liquors, Inc. v. O'Neil, 361 S.C. 267, 603 S.E.2d 629 (Ct.App. 2004). In determining whether any triable issue of fact exi......
  • Coastal Conservation v. Dept. of Health, No. 4450.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 23, 2008
    ...v. Berkeley County, 348 S.C. 224, 229, 559 S.E.2d 586, 588 (2002); Eagle Container Co., L.L.C. v. County of Newberry, 366 S.C. 611, 622, 622 S.E.2d 733, 738 (Ct.App.2005)). The legislative intent should be derived primarily from the plain language of the statute. Bass, 365 S.C. at 470, 617 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Bennett v. Investors Title Ins. Co., No. 4152.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 25, 2006
    ...Dep't of Corrections, 368 S.C. 424, 434, 629 S.E.2d 642, 648 (2006); Eagle Container Co., LLC v. County of Newberry, 366 S.C. 611, 620, 622 S.E.2d 733, 737 (Ct.App.2005). If triable issues exist, those issues must go the jury. Mulherin-Howell 370 S.C. 588 v. Cobb, 362 S.C. 588, 595, 608 S.E......
  • Moore v. Weinberg, No. 4209.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 20, 2007
    ...Grand Strand Entm't, Inc., 363 S.C. 531, 536, 611 S.E.2d 922, 925 (2005); Eagle Container Co., LLC v. County of Newberry, 366 S.C. 611, 622 S.E.2d 733 (Ct.App. 2005); B & B Liquors, Inc. v. O'Neil, 361 S.C. 267, 603 S.E.2d 629 (Ct.App.2004). In determining whether any triable issue of fact ......
  • Singleton v. Sherer, No. 4346.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 25, 2008
    ...Henderson v. Allied Signal, Inc., 373 S.C. 179, 644 S.E.2d 724 (2007); Eagle Container Co., LLC v. County of Newberry, 366 S.C. 611, 622 S.E.2d 733 (Ct.App.2005); B & B Liquors, Inc. v. O'Neil, 361 S.C. 267, 603 S.E.2d 629 (Ct.App. 2004). In determining whether any triable issue of fact exi......
  • Coastal Conservation v. Dept. of Health, No. 4450.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 23, 2008
    ...v. Berkeley County, 348 S.C. 224, 229, 559 S.E.2d 586, 588 (2002); Eagle Container Co., L.L.C. v. County of Newberry, 366 S.C. 611, 622, 622 S.E.2d 733, 738 (Ct.App.2005)). The legislative intent should be derived primarily from the plain language of the statute. Bass, 365 S.C. at 470, 617 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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