Sandy City v. Salt Lake County, 900425

CourtSupreme Court of Utah
Citation827 P.2d 212
Docket NumberNo. 900425,900425
PartiesSANDY CITY, a municipal corporation, Plaintiff and Petitioner, v. SALT LAKE COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Utah, Salt Lake County Planning Commission, K. Delyn Yeates, R. Scott Priest, W. Scott Kjar, Steven E. Smoot, Postero-Blecker, Inc., and Chevron U.S.A., Inc., Defendants and Respondents.
Decision Date17 January 1992

Walter R. Miller, Sandy, for Sandy City.

David E. Yocom, Kent S. Lewis, Salt Lake City, for Salt Lake County and the Salt Lake County Planning Com.



This matter is here on a writ of certiorari to the court of appeals. We granted certiorari to review that court's affirmance of the district court's summary judgment against Sandy City and in favor of Salt Lake County and the Salt Lake County Planning Commission (collectively "the County"), Messrs. Yeates, Priest, Kjar, and Smoot ("the property owners"), Postero-Blecker, Inc. ("the developers"), and Chevron U.S.A., Inc. ("Chevron"). See Sandy City v. Salt Lake County, 794 P.2d 482 (Utah Ct.App.1990). Sandy sued the County, challenging its grant of a conditional use permit to the developers, who were acting as Chevron's agent. The permit allowed the construction of a Chevron station on a .7-acre portion of a 4.18-acre parcel of land in the unincorporated area of the county, immediately across the street from the Sandy boundary. Sandy contended that the proposed construction and the larger 4.18-acre project of which the station was only one phase constituted "urban development" within the meaning of SECTION 10-2-418 OF THE CODE1 and that under the statute the County could not grant the conditional use permit because the project conflicted with Sandy's master plan for property adjacent to its boundaries.

The district court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment and denied that of Sandy on the grounds that the project did not constitute urban development and, therefore, did not need to comply with Sandy's master plan. On appeal, the court of appeals did not reach the merits of Sandy's contentions, finding instead that Sandy had waived the issues by not raising them during an earlier rezoning of the entire 4.18-acre parcel. We granted certiorari to determine whether Sandy had waived its claims and whether the project constituted urban development as defined by Code section 10-1-104(11). 2 We find that the court of appeals improperly relied on waiver in declining to reach the merits and that the district court erred in its ruling on the merits. We remand the matter to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

This case turns on the interpretation of sections 10-2-418 and 10-1-104(11). Section 10-2-418 prohibits urban development of land in unincorporated areas within one-half mile of the boundary of a municipality if the municipality has declared an intent to expand to include the area and the municipality is willing to annex the territory. Utah Code Ann. § 10-2-418 (1986). Section 10-1-104(11) defines urban development as, inter alia, "a commercial or industrial development for which cost projections exceed $750,000 for any or all phases." Utah Code Ann. § 10-1-104(11) (1986). The parties disagree on two issues. First, what expenses should be included in the development's cost projections for purposes of determining whether the statute's bar on urban development is triggered? Sandy argues for the inclusion of land and fixture costs, while the County contends that cost projections should encompass only the building shell. Second, should cost projections include all units and phases of a multiphase commercial subdivision? Sandy argues that the statute targets developments as a whole, while the County contends that each unit and phase should be considered separately.

In reviewing a grant of summary judgment, we view the facts in a light most favorable to the party against which the motion was granted. Schurtz v. BMW of North Am., Inc., 814 P.2d 1108, 1112 (Utah 1991); Geneva Pipe Co. v. S & H Ins. Co., 714 P.2d 648, 649 (Utah 1986). We state the facts in this case accordingly.

This dispute concerns approximately 4.18 acres of property on the northwest corner of the intersection of 1300 East and 10600 South, located on the edge of an unincorporated island of county land surrounded by Sandy City. The parcel is across the street from Sandy, separated only by 1300 East. See Appendix. Before the events described below, the property was zoned rural residential, or Residential R-1-8, and was therefore reserved for single-family dwelling lots not less than 8,000 square feet in area. The Salt Lake County master plan, adopted in 1976, reserved the property for rural residential development. Sandy City also anticipated residential uses on the property because its master plan, adopted in 1979, allowed commercial development on only one corner of an intersection. Sandy had already approved commercial development on the adjacent corner, which was in Sandy. Additionally, Sandy had adopted a policy declaration that expressed its willingness to annex unincorporated territory that included the 4.18-acre site. See Utah Code Ann. § 10-2-414 (1986).

The property owners did not seek annexation by Sandy City. Instead, in April of 1987, the developers requested that Salt Lake County rezone the 4.18 acres of property from rural residential to Residential RM-ZC (office) and Commercial C-Z so that they could develop a multiphase commercial subdivision on the property. In their application for rezoning, the developers stated that "well known commercial tenants" such as McDonald's, Circle K Food Stores, Minit-Lube, and Mark-10 Car Wash had "expressed extreme interest in locating at [the] site." At the time of application, the developers made no representations about the cost of the commercial subdivision, even though the rezoning application form asked for the estimated value of the project, including land value "if applicable." Nearby residents initially opposed the development, but their concerns subsided when they were told that the property owners "would be the developer[s] of the whole project and not piecemeal like has happened before."

The planning commission conducted three hearings on the rezoning, on April 28, May 12, and June 23, 1987. Sandy representatives did not attend the hearings, but Sandy had filed a written objection to the rezoning on April 21, 1987. The statement recommended disapproval of the proposal because office and commercial uses conflicted with Sandy's master plan. Sandy asked that the "developer[s] be encouraged to work with Sandy on annexation and zoning" and warned that "[p]iecemeal development should be discouraged." In this April 21 statement, Sandy made no claim that the proposed development constituted prohibited "urban development" in violation of section 10-2-418. It objected only to the development's conflict with the Sandy master plan and with the report of a citizen's group. Based on this written objection, planning commission staff reported at the first two rezoning hearings that Sandy opposed the rezoning because of its policy of allowing commercial zoning on only one corner of a major street intersection.

At the June 23 hearing, the planning commission unanimously recommended the rezoning of the 4.18-acre parcel. The board of county commissioners approved the planning commission's recommendation on August 5, making the rezoning final. See Salt Lake County, Utah, Ordinance ch. 19.90.010 (1988). At the county commission meeting, a deputy county attorney stated that although he believed the restriction on urban development costing more than $750,000 applied only to individual phases of a multiphase development, "it [was] something that [was] not totally clear under the law ... [and] Sandy could object to that anyway." The deputy county attorney did not specify when Sandy should make this objection. No Sandy representative attended the hearing, which was noticed in the Salt Lake Tribune, but the commissioners were aware of the objections Sandy had filed in April. The County published the rezoning ordinance on August 15, 1987. It became effective August 20, 1987.

Six days after the ordinance became effective, the developers, acting as agent for Chevron, applied for a conditional use permit to build a Chevron station on .7 acres of the 4.18-acre parcel of land. The application estimated the value of the project at $250,000, including land. On September 18, 1987, Sandy filed a written objection with the County, recommending that the planning commission deny the conditional use permit. That same day, Sandy petitioned the board of county commissioners to reconsider the rezoning of the 4.18-acre parcel. We will describe each of Sandy's September 18 filings in turn.

Sandy's written objection to Chevron's conditional use permit stated that the area proposed for the service station fell within the boundaries of Sandy's annexation declaration, that the developers had not attempted to annex the property to Sandy, and that Sandy was "currently considering annexation of the property." Sandy also requested "complete information on the entire commercial tract to be developed (not just individual piecemeal projects), prior to further consideration of this matter by the County and prior to the granting of any permits." There is no evidence that the County supplied Sandy with such information.

Sandy's written request that the commissioners reconsider the rezoning took a different approach. For the first time, Sandy explicitly claimed that County approval of the development would violate section 10-2-418. Sandy stated that the property was within the area it had declared for annexation, that the proposed construction constituted urban development within the meaning of section 10-2-418, and that the property owners had not attempted to annex the property to Sandy. Consequently,...

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