Staker v. Springdale, 123120 UTCA, 20190641-CA

Docket Nº20190641-CA
Party NameAllan R. Staker, Appellant, v. Town of Springdale, Appellee.
AttorneyBruce C. Jenkins and Kimball A. Forbes, Attorneys for Appellant J. Gregory Hardman and Devin Snow, Attorneys for Appellee
Judge PanelJudge Diana Hagen concurred. POHLMAN, Judge (concurring and dissenting):
Case DateDecember 31, 2020
CourtCourt of Appeals of Utah

2020 UT App 174

Allan R. Staker, Appellant,


Town of Springdale, Appellee.

No. 20190641-CA

Court of Appeals of Utah

December 31, 2020

Fifth District Court, St. George Department The Honorable Matthew L. Bell No. 170500349

Bruce C. Jenkins and Kimball A. Forbes, Attorneys for Appellant

J. Gregory Hardman and Devin Snow, Attorneys for Appellee

Judge Diana Hagen concurred.



¶1 Allan R. Staker applied for a conditional use permit to operate a public parking lot (Proposed Lot) on a parcel of property (Property) he owns in Springdale, Utah. The Springdale Town Council (Town Council) denied his application, which denial the town's Appeal Authority (Appeal Authority) affirmed. Staker petitioned for review with the district court, which ultimately upheld the Appeal Authority's decision and dismissed Staker's petition. On appeal, Staker contends the district court erred because the Appeal Authority's decision was not supported by substantial evidence and was illegal. We affirm.


¶2 Staker owns the Property, a three-acre parcel of land with a house in Springdale, Utah. The Property is on the southeast side of Zion Park Boulevard, a road connecting to the southeast entrance of Zion National Park.

¶3 In January 2017, Staker applied for a conditional use permit to operate the Property as a parking lot. Staker submitted a concept plan with his application, which originally proposed a parking area with 83 spaces, 1 removal of the house on the Property, and planting screening vegetation next to the neighboring property lines.

¶4 The Property is zoned as "Valley Residential," a zone "established to provide areas . . . where residential uses may be harmoniously integrated with incidental agricultural pursuits" and "intended to retain land in parcels large enough to provide efficient and attractive residential development which preserves the historic open agricultural and farm type impression of the area." Springdale, Utah, Code § 10-9B-1 (2020).2 The Property is immediately adjacent to residences. But the zoning of the surrounding properties includes a mix of residential and commercial uses. The area south and southwest of the Property is zoned Village Commercial, allowing the potential for "low impact commercial and service uses" that may be "harmoniously integrated with low and medium density residential uses," id. § 10-11B-1, while the properties to the west, north, and northeast are zoned residential.

¶5 When Staker applied for the conditional use permit, parking lots were allowed as conditional uses in the Valley Residential zone.3 Recognizing that conditional uses "may only be suitable in specific locations," id. § 10-3A-1, the Springdale Town Code (Code) required the Planning Commission and the Town Council to decide whether certain standards had been or could be met "through the imposition of the proposed conditions on the use," including that the proposed use not "unreasonably interfere with the lawful use of surrounding properties" (Standard B) or "create a need for essential Municipal services which cannot be reasonably met within three (3) months and the party seeking the conditional use is willing and able to contribute to the cost of said services" (Standard C), id. § 10-3A-4. The parties also agree the Code at the time required denial of the conditional use permit if the "reasonably anticipated detrimental effects of a proposed conditional use" could not be "substantially mitigated by the proposal or the imposition of reasonable conditions to achieve compliance with applicable standards."

¶6 Before the Planning Commission considered and voted on whether to recommend approval of Staker's application, Springdale's Director of Community Development (DCD) prepared a memorandum (DCD Memorandum) setting forth the standards related to parking lot approvals and analysis of each standard in light of the specific circumstances surrounding the Property. As relevant here, the DCD Memorandum indicated that the Proposed Lot "is adjacent to residential uses" and that it "will impact these surrounding properties with increases in traffic, noise, and general activity on the [Property]." The DCD Memorandum stated that if the Planning Commission recommended approval, it "should consider conditions that could help mitigate the impacts," such as "requir[ing] screening, additional landscape buffers, and other similar measures." The DCD Memorandum also indicated the Proposed Lot "has the potential to generate the same amount of noise, or noxious odors as any other parking lot might," and that the Planning Commission "may wish to impose a condition of approval that requires this facility to avoid making loud noises between the hours of 11:00 PM and 7:00 AM."

¶7 The Planning Commission considered Staker's application and, following a public hearing, recommended denying it. The Planning Commission found, among other things, that the Proposed Lot "cannot be screened adequately from surrounding properties," including the "nearby two-story homes." And observing the Code provides that "allowable land uses are established to avoid incompatible uses in close proximity . . . and to preserve the peace, quiet and privacy in the residential zones," the Planning Commission determined, among other things, that the Proposed Lot would be incompatible with Springdale's "General Plan" because it would commercialize and "change the appearance and character of" the Property's Village Residential designation.

¶8 The matter then went before the Town Council. After a public hearing, the Town Council denied Staker's application. In addition to relying on the Planning Commission's recommendation, the Town Council made several findings, including that the "proposed use is in the middle of an existing residential neighborhood," "is less than 20 feet from a residence," and "[t]he front yard of a residence to the northeast would look onto" the Proposed Lot; the "proposed use will unreasonably interfere with the lawful use of surrounding properties because it will substantially increase traffic, activity, and noise in an existing residential neighborhood" and "bring congestion from other areas"; the "proposed use will emit excessive noise from parking patrons and their vehicles"; and "the proposed use will create a need for essential municipal services that cannot be met within three months because it will bring concentrated ridership on shuttles" into Zion National Park and "will require public restrooms in concern for public health" purposes. In making its findings, the Town Council relied on the applicable conditional use standards, the application materials, the Planning Commission's recommendation and associated minutes, the DCD Memorandum, and community input.

¶9 Staker appealed the denial of the conditional use permit to the Appeal Authority. He argued, among other things, that the Town Council did not properly apply Springdale's conditional use permit standards when considering his application and that its decision was arbitrary and capricious.

¶10 After a hearing, the Appeal Authority affirmed the Town Council's decision. Noting there was no showing that the Planning Commission's or the Town Council's findings were clearly erroneous, the Appeal Authority deferred to those findings and made additional findings in support of affirmance. The Appeal Authority found, among other things, that the Planning Commission and the Town Council "thoroughly" discussed "site conditions, surrounding property uses, potential adverse impacts on surrounding properties, and whether those impacts could be mitigated." And, like the Town Council, the Appeal Authority found that "[t]he surrounding properties are used primarily for residential purposes" and the Proposed Lot "would be constructed near residential uses"; the "proposed use would unreasonably interfere with the lawful use of surrounding properties"; the use would "create a need for essential municipal services that cannot be met within three months"; and the use would "emit excessive noise from parking patrons" that would impact neighboring residences.

¶11 The Appeal Authority concluded the Town Council's decision was not arbitrary or capricious. It emphasized that even though a parking lot was an "allowable use" in the Valley Residential zone, it was only conditionally so, subject to whether "reasonable conditions" could be imposed to mitigate the "reasonably anticipated detrimental effects" of the Proposed Lot "in accordance with" the applicable standards. (Quotation simplified.) In this respect, the Appeal Authority concluded there was substantial evidence the Proposed Lot would not meet Standard B-that is, the use would "unreasonably interfere with the lawful use of surrounding properties and that proposed conditions could not be imposed that would substantially mitigate the reasonably anticipated detrimental effects on the surrounding properties." The Appeal Authority interpreted the term "lawful use" to include "the right to quietly and peaceably enjoy [one's] property." And it applied that interpretation to determine that, based on the record, "a reasonable mind could conclude . . . that operating a commercial parking lot in the middle of an existing residential neighborhood would increase both vehicular and foot traffic and bring with it the inevitable noise created when cars and people enter and exit the location"-all of which would "unreasonably interfere" with the surrounding properties' lawful use.[4]

¶12 Staker petitioned for review of the Appeal Authority's decision in the district court. Among other things, he claimed the decision was arbitrary and capricious because it was "not supported by substantial evidence in the...

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