COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: RANKIN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/28/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOHN HUEY EMFINGER.
FOR APPELLANT: MICHAEL VERDIER CORY, JR., DALE DANKS, JR.
FOR APPELLEES: JOSHUA J. WIENER.
¶1. The City of Richland began enforcing a zoning ordinance that regulated nonconforming uses and prohibited Cleveland MHC, LLC from replacing mobile homes that were removed from its property. The Rankin County Circuit Court upheld the City's decision, and Cleveland MHC appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed. The City petitioned the Court for certiorari, which we granted.
Facts and Procedural History
¶2. Cleveland Mobile Home Community has been operating in Rankin County since the 1950s. It includes spaces for 138 mobile homes and seventeen campers or recreational vehicles, and the spaces are rented to tenants. When the City of Richland incorporated in 1975, the mobile-home park became part of the City and was zoned " I-1, Light Industrial Zoning." The City's ordinances prohibit industrial property being used for residential purposes. Thus, use of the property as a mobile-home park was a nonconforming use. Regarding nonconforming uses, the City ordinances provide that nonconforming lots, uses, or structures are allowed " to continue until they are removed" but the " survival" of the nonconformity is not encouraged. Further, nonconformities " shall not be enlarged upon, expanded[,] or extended, [nor] be used as grounds for adding other [s]tructures or uses prohibited elsewhere in the same district."
¶3. The mobile-home park was a nonconforming use for many years, and mobile homes were removed from the property and replaced over the years. Cleveland MHC, LLC purchased the mobile-home park in 2008 and claims that it received assurance from the City's zoning administrator that it would be allowed to continue operating and moving mobile homes in and out without restriction. However, in April 2011, apparently due to deterioration of the property, the City informed Cleveland MHC that it would begin enforcing the zoning ordinance and, when an existing mobile home was removed, it could not be replaced. Cleveland MHC appealed to the Board of Aldermen in July 2011. The Board upheld the City's decision and voted unanimously to adopt the following resolution: " That in the event a mobile home or similar vehicle is removed from its then present location in the Cleveland Mobile Home Park, another mobile home or similar vehicle shall not be placed on the vacated site." Cleveland MHC filed an appeal in the Circuit Court of Rankin County; the circuit court held that the Board's action was not in error.
¶4. Cleveland MHC appealed, and the case was assigned to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals held that the City's interpretation of the ordinance was arbitrary and capricious and that it deprived
Cleveland MHC of its " constitutional right to enjoy [its] property." Cleveland MHC, LLC v. City of Richland, 163 So.3d 302, 2014 WL 4067207, *6 (¶ 32) (Miss. Ct. App. Aug. 19, 2014). The Court of Appeals held that the nonconforming use ordinance applied to the " mobile-home park as a whole," not to individual lots within the park, such that, as long as Cleveland MHC operated as a mobile-home park and did not expand, its operation was a permitted use. Id. at *6 (¶ 30). The City petitioned the Court for certiorari, which we granted. The Mississippi Manufactured Housing Association and the Home Builders Association of Mississippi both filed amicus briefs.
Standard of Review
¶5. " In examining a zoning order issued by a city council, the circuit court sits as an appellate court with a restricted scope of judicial review." Red Roof Inns, Inc. v. City of Ridgeland, 797 So.2d 898, 900 (¶ 6) (Miss. 2001) (citing Ridgewood Land Co. v. Moore, 222 So.2d 378, 379 (Miss. 1969)). A zoning order will not be reversed unless it is " arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, beyond the legal authority of the City Board[,] or unsupported by substantial evidence." Id. The appellate courts should not consider " whether it would adopt the ordinance in question; instead it should determine whether the City's decision to adopt the ordinance is reasonable and ...