McCallen v. City of Memphis, No. 11

CourtSupreme Court of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtGARY R. WADE; DROWOTA
Citation786 S.W.2d 633
Decision Date05 March 1990
Docket NumberNo. 11
PartiesJ.T. McCALLEN, Trustee, d/b/a Winchester Square Townhouses, Wooddale Church of Christ, Wooddale Condominiums, Townhouse Village, Winchester Condominiums, and Cromwell Park Joint Venture, d/b/a Cromwell Park Apartments, Plaintiffs/Appellees, v. CITY OF MEMPHIS, Tennessee, the Memphis City Council, Sam P. Gay, Jr., Waymon H. Welch, Jr., and Homer B. Branan, III, Defendants/Appellants. 786 S.W.2d 633

Page 633

786 S.W.2d 633
J.T. McCALLEN, Trustee, d/b/a Winchester Square Townhouses,
Wooddale Church of Christ, Wooddale Condominiums, Townhouse
Village, Winchester Condominiums, and Cromwell Park Joint
Venture, d/b/a Cromwell Park Apartments,
Plaintiffs/Appellees,
v.
CITY OF MEMPHIS, Tennessee, the Memphis City Council, Sam P.
Gay, Jr., Waymon H. Welch, Jr., and Homer B.
Branan, III, Defendants/Appellants.
No. 11.
786 S.W.2d 633
Supreme Court of Tennessee,
at Jackson.
March 5, 1990.

Clifford D. Pierce, Jr., City Atty., Monice M. Hagler, Asst. City Atty., City of Memphis, Henry H. Hancock, Rebecca P. Tuttle, Memphis, for defendants/appellants.

Carl H. Langschmidt, Jr., Boone, Wellford, Clark, Langschmidt & Apperson, Memphis, for plaintiffs/appellees.

OPINION

GARY R. WADE, Special Judge.

Permission to appeal to this court has been granted to the defendants, City of Memphis, Tennessee, the Memphis City Council, Sam P. Gay, Jr., Waymon H. Welch, Jr., and Homer B. Branan, III, under Rule 11 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. There are two issues:

1. Whether the proper method of review of a resolution of the Memphis City Council giving approval to a planned development is certiorari or declaratory judgment.

2. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in its application of the scope of review.

We initially hold that the action of the city council giving approval to the plan was administrative rather than legislative in nature; any challenge of the action is by writ of certiorari. Secondly, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals failed to give proper deference to the determination of the Memphis City Council. We reverse the action of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals and enter a judgment in favor of the defendants. Costs are adjudged against the plaintiffs.

A complaint for declaratory judgment was filed by the plaintiffs/appellees, J.T. McCallen, Trustee, doing business as Winchester Square Townhouses, Wooddale Church of Christ, Wooddale Condominiums, Townhouse Village Winchester Condominiums, and Cromwell Park Joint Venture doing business as Cromwell Park Apartments. The City of Memphis, its city council, the record owner of the property, the developer, and the developer's representative are defendants/appellants. As owners of the property surrounding the 1.8 acre tract of the defendant developers, the plaintiffs sought to invalidate a resolution by the council which gave approval to the planned development. The record of the hearing before the Memphis City Council was certified to the Chancery Court of Shelby County. After reviewing the written proceedings, the chancellor, citing an unreported case decided by the Western Section of the Court of Appeals, held that the council's action was invalid as "not supported by substantial evidence." The intermediate court affirmed, holding that there was no rational basis for the enactment of the resolution which authorized the planned development.

A planned development is authorized by Sec. 14 of the Memphis and Shelby County Zoning Ordinance. The purpose of this section is as follows:

The primary thrust of development in the Memphis-Shelby County area has taken place under the requirements of Uniform Regulations within each zoning district that may on occasion prevent or discourage innovative site design and development that will respond to new market demands. The use of improved techniques for land development is often difficult under traditional zoning regulations designed to control single buildings on individual lots. Proper private development of congested and blighted areas within the City of Memphis, together with advantageous development of larger areas of substantially vacant land in the county, require a flexible approach to be available both to the city and the county and to the landowner. Deviations from the rigid uniformity characteristic of such earlier zoning regulations and the use of new and innovative techniques are henceforth to be encouraged as a matter of public policy. The city and county may, upon proper application,,

Page 635

grant a permit for a planned development for a site of any size within the city or for parcels of at least three acres in an unincorporated area of Shelby County to facilitate the use of flexible techniques of land development and site design, by providing relief from zone requirements designed for conventional developments, and may maintain standards and procedures for the issuance of a special use permit for planned developments in order to obtain one or more of the following objectives:

1. Environmental design in the development of land that is of higher quality than is possible under the regulations otherwise applicable to the property.

2. Diversification in the uses permitted and variation in the relationship of uses, structures, open space and height of structures in developments intended as cohesive, unified projects.

3. Functional and beneficial uses of open space areas.

4. Preservation of natural features of a development site.

5. Creation of a safe and desirable living environment for residential areas characterized by unified building and site development program.

6. Rational and economic development in relation to public services.

7. Efficient and effective traffic circulation, both within and adjacent to the development site.

8. Creation of a variety of housing compatible with surrounding neighborhoods to provide a greater choice of types of environment and living units.

9. Revitalization of established commercial centers of integrated design in order to encourage the rehabilitation of such centers in order to meet current market preferences.

10. Provision in attractive and appropriate locations for business and manufacturing uses in well-designed buildings and provision of opportunities for employment closer to residents with a reduction in travel time from home to work.

The general standards and criteria for the planned development are as follows:

The legislative body may grant a permit which modifies the applicable district zoning regulations and subdivision regulations upon written findings and recommendations by the Land Use Control Board which shall be forwarded pursuant to the provisions contained in this section. (Emphasis added.)

The ordinance provides that planned developments are permitted in all zoning districts, irrespective of the specific zoning classification of the property. In return, the developer must comply with specific standards and procedures over and above projects designed in areas for which the intended use is permitted by the applicable zoning designation.

The resolution approving the planned development allows for exceptions from any zoning district regulations governing "use, density, area, bulk, parking, signage, and subdivision regulations" as are necessary to achieve the objectives of the development; any exceptions must, however, be consistent with certain standards and criteria contained within the ordinance. Modifications of the zoning district requirements are not permitted if the proposal would create any of the following circumstances:

(1) inadequate or unsafe access to the planned development;

(2) traffic volume exceeding the anticipated capacity of the proposed major street network in the vicinity;

(3) an undue burden on public parks, recreation areas, schools, fire and police protection, and other public facilities which serve or are proposed to serve the planned unit development; and

(4) the development which will be incompatible with the purposes of this ordinance.

The ordinance goes on to provide that the legislative body may consider and ultimately grant the permit for the planned development upon the written recommendations by the Land Use Control Board. The general standards and criteria which must be met before the council may approve the

Page 636

planned development are set out in Section C of the governing ordinance:

1. The proposed development will not unduly injure or damage the use, value, and enjoyment of surrounding property nor unduly hinder or prevent the development of surrounding property in accordance with the current development policies and plans of the city and county.

2. An approved water supply, community waste water treatment and disposal, and storm water drainage facilities that are adequate to serve the proposed development have been or shall be provided.

3. The location and arrangement of the structures, parking areas, walks, lighting, and other service facilities shall be compatible with the surrounding land uses, and any part of the proposed development not used for structures, parking and loading areas or access ways shall be landscaped or otherwise improved except where natural features are such as to justify preservation.

4. Any modification of the zoning or other regulations that would otherwise be applicable to the site are warranted by the design of the outlined plan and the amenities incorporated therein, and are not inconsistent with the public interest.

5. Homeowners associations or some other responsible party shall be required to maintain any and all common open space and/or common elements.

Section E of the ordinance provides for commercial or industrial uses in planned developments:

A permit for a planned commercial or industrial development may be issued by the legislative body for buildings or premises to be used for the retail sale of merchandise and services, parking areas, office buildings, hotels and motels, and similar facilities ordinarily accepted as commercial center uses and those industrial uses which can reasonably be expected to function in a compatible manner with the other permitted uses in the area.... (Emphasis added.)

Planned commercial and industrial developments, in addition to the other standards and criteria set forth in the Memphis ordinance, are subjected to additional requirements: screening or buffers, when the commercial development abuts a...

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228 practice notes
  • Edwards v. Allen
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • March 2, 2007
    ...be invalidated only if it constitutes an abuse of discretion. If `any possible reason' exists justifying the action, it will be upheld." 786 S.W.2d 633, 641 There are two reported decisions from the Court of Appeals that are pertinent to the issues before us. First, in State ex rel. SCA Che......
  • Willis v. Dept. of Corrections, M2000-01397-COA-R3-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • June 5, 2002
    ...29 S.W.3d at 878; Petition of Gant, 937 S.W.2d 841, 844-45 (Tenn. 1996); Powell, 879 S.W.2d at 873; McCallen v. City of Memphis, 786 S.W.2d 633, 638 (Tenn. An allegation of denial of due process, such as that made herein, or other constitutional violation, is an allegation that the board ac......
  • Consolidated Waste Systems v. Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County, No. M2002-02582-COA-R3-CV (TN 6/30/2005), No. M2002-02582-COA-R3-CV.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • June 30, 2005
    ...they give considerable deference to the decisions of such bodies if the issues are fairly debatable. See McCallen v. City of Memphis, 786 S.W.2d 633, 640 (Tenn. Thus, where the question is whether the legislature had a rational basis for the statute, if any reasonable justification for the ......
  • Butler v. Tenn. Bd. of Nursing, No. M2016-00113-COA-R3-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • October 25, 2016
    ...to be valid and a heavy burden of proof rests upon the shoulders of the party who challenges the action." McCallen v. City of Memphis, 786 S.W.2d 633, 638 (Tenn. 1990).Page 15 "Under the limited standard of review in common law [] writ of certiorari proceedings, courts review a lower tribun......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
228 cases
  • Edwards v. Allen
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • March 2, 2007
    ...be invalidated only if it constitutes an abuse of discretion. If `any possible reason' exists justifying the action, it will be upheld." 786 S.W.2d 633, 641 There are two reported decisions from the Court of Appeals that are pertinent to the issues before us. First, in State ex rel. SCA Che......
  • Willis v. Dept. of Corrections, M2000-01397-COA-R3-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • June 5, 2002
    ...29 S.W.3d at 878; Petition of Gant, 937 S.W.2d 841, 844-45 (Tenn. 1996); Powell, 879 S.W.2d at 873; McCallen v. City of Memphis, 786 S.W.2d 633, 638 (Tenn. An allegation of denial of due process, such as that made herein, or other constitutional violation, is an allegation that the board ac......
  • Consolidated Waste Systems v. Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County, No. M2002-02582-COA-R3-CV (TN 6/30/2005), No. M2002-02582-COA-R3-CV.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • June 30, 2005
    ...they give considerable deference to the decisions of such bodies if the issues are fairly debatable. See McCallen v. City of Memphis, 786 S.W.2d 633, 640 (Tenn. Thus, where the question is whether the legislature had a rational basis for the statute, if any reasonable justification for the ......
  • Butler v. Tenn. Bd. of Nursing, No. M2016-00113-COA-R3-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • October 25, 2016
    ...to be valid and a heavy burden of proof rests upon the shoulders of the party who challenges the action." McCallen v. City of Memphis, 786 S.W.2d 633, 638 (Tenn. 1990).Page 15 "Under the limited standard of review in common law [] writ of certiorari proceedings, courts review a lower tribun......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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