Lenardis v. City of Greenville, 2250

Decision Date07 September 1994
Docket NumberNo. 2250,2250
Citation450 S.E.2d 597,316 S.C. 471
CourtSouth Carolina Court of Appeals
PartiesPerry LENARDIS, Respondent, v. The CITY OF GREENVILLE, Appellant. . Heard

City Atty. Stephen A. Kern and Asst. City Atty. Kathleen G. Kempe, Greenville, for appellant.

Robert C. Wilson, Jr., Greenville, for respondent.

SHAW, Judge:

This is a rezoning case. Pursuant to an order of reference for final judgment with direct appeal, the master ordered the defendant city to rezone the plaintiff's property from office use to commercial use. We reverse.

Rezoning is a legislative matter. The decision of the legislative body is presumptively valid, and the property owner bears the burden of proving otherwise. See Rushing v. City of Greenville, 265 S.C. 285 217 S.E.2d 797 (1975); Rush v. City of Greenville, 246 S.C. 268, 143 S.E.2d 527 (1965). The governing bodies of municipalities clothed with authority to determine residential and industrial districts are better qualified by their knowledge of the situation to act upon such matters than are the courts and they will not be interfered with unless there is a plain violation of the constitutional rights of citizens. Rush, 143 S.E.2d at 531. It is not the prerogative of the court to pass upon the wisdom of the decision. Rushing, 217 S.E.2d at 799. The controlling inquiry is whether City Council's refusal to change the zoning of the owner's property is so unreasonable as to impair or destroy the owner's constitutional rights. Rushing, 217 S.E.2d at 799. We cannot insinuate our judgment into a review of the City Council's decision, but must leave that decision undisturbed if the propriety of that decision is even "fairly debatable." Knowles v. City of Aiken, 305 S.C. 219, 407 S.E.2d 639 (1991). We find that City Council's decision to hold the line on commercial development in the area and protect its residential nature was fairly debatable and was not unreasonable. 1

The plaintiff argues that his property is no longer useable as residential property due to the surrounding commercial development. 2 We first note that the plaintiff's property is zoned for office use, not simply residential use. Moreover, an adverse economic impact on an individual property owner is not the controlling inquiry in a zoning case, for the interests of the individual are subordinate to the public good. See Talbot v. Myrtle Beach Board of Adj., 222 S.C. 165, 72 S.E.2d 66 (1952). Finally, and most importantly, the plaintiff bought the property as a speculative investment with full knowledge of the existing zoning and surrounding commercial development. He may not now complain the City's refusal to rezone the property imposes an unnecessary hardship. Rush, 143 S.E.2d at 532.

The plaintiff also argues that this case is so similar to Rushing, that here, as there, the courts should order the city to grant rezoning. We find Rushing to be readily distinguishable. In Rushing, all of the surrounding commercial development had been approved and...

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7 cases
  • Eagle Container v. County of Newberry, 4037.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • December 15, 2005
    ...Bear Enters. v. County of Greenville, 319 S.C. 137, 140, 459 S.E.2d 883, 885 (Ct.App.1995) (citing Lenardis v. City of Greenville, 316 S.C. 471, 472, 450 S.E.2d 597, 598 (Ct.App.1994)). "If the propriety of the Council's decision is even `fairly debatable,' we cannot inject our judgment int......
  • Harbit v. City of Charleston
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • February 25, 2009
    ...this Court should invalidate City Council's decision. We disagree. Rezoning is a legislative matter. Lenardis v. City of Greenville, 316 S.C. 471, 471, 450 S.E.2d 597, 597 (Ct.App.1994). The legislative body's decision in zoning is presumptively valid, and the property owner has the burden ......
  • Mikell v. County of Charleston
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • October 4, 2007
    ...wisdom of the decision." Rushing v. City of Greenville, 265 S.C. 285, 288, 217 S.E.2d 797, 799 (1975); Lenardis v. City of Greenville, 316 S.C. 471, 472, 450 S.E.2d 597, 598 (Ct.App.1994). Turning to the facts of this case, we believe County Council's decision to adopt Ordinance No. 1300 wa......
  • Hughey v. Miles Inc., CA No. 2:95-3520-18AJ (D. S.C. 1997)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Carolina
    • March 1, 1997
    ... ... Hindman v. Greenville Hosp. Sys., 947 F. Supp. 215, 226 (D.S.C. 1996) (citing Grooms v. Mobay, ... ...
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