SNPCO, INC. v. CITY OF JEFFERSON CITY ET AL. - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Mar 26, 2012

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Carl R. Ogle, Jr., Jefferson City, Tennessee, for the appellants, SNPCO, Inc. d/b/a Salvage Unlimited and Shawn R. Wilmoth.

Attorneys 2:

John T. Batson, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, City of Jefferson City, Mayor Darrell Helton, Vice Mayor Karen Smith, Councilwoman Ann Cole, Councilman Ray Cain, and Councilman Mark Potts.

Judge(s): KOCH

This appeal involves the question of whether a city’s ordinance banning the sale of fireworks within its city limits implicates Tenn. Code Ann. § 13-7-208(b) (Supp. 2008) which permits pre-existing nonconforming businesses to continue to operate despite a “zoning change.” After the City of Jefferson City annexed the property on which a fireworks retailer’s business was located, the retailer filed suit in the Circuit Court for Jefferson County seeking compensation for a regulatory taking or, in the alternative, for a declaration that Tenn. Code Ann. § 13-7-208(b) permitted it to continue to sell fireworks. The trial court dismissed the retailer’s complaint in accordance with Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6), and the Court of Appeals affirmed. SNPCO, Inc. v. City of Jefferson City, No. E2009-02355-COA-R3-CV, 2010 WL 4272744, at *11 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 29, 2010). We granted the retailer’s Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application to clarify the application of the “substantial interference” test in Cherokee Country Club, Inc. v. City of Knoxville, 152 S.W.3d 466 (Tenn. 2004) to ordinances such as the one involved in this case. We have determined that our decision in Cherokee Country Club, Inc. v. City of Knoxville requires consideration of both the terms and effects of the challenged ordinance. Thus, the courts must first determine whether the challenged ordinance relates to the city’s “general plan of zoning.” If the courts determine that the challenged ordinance relates to the city’s general plan of zoning, then, and only then, may the courts ascertain whether the ordinance results in a “substantial interference” with the use of land. Based on this record, we have determined that Jefferson City’s challenged ordinance banning the sale of fireworks within its city limits is not related to the city’s general plan of zoning. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the courts below.

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