Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use

by
The New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee recognized approximately 400,000 acres of public land on Mount Taylor as a registered cultural property under the New Mexico Cultural Properties Act. One month after the Committee issued its final order, Rayellen Resources, Inc., and numerous other parties including the Cebolleta Land Grant (the Rayellen parties) appealed that decision. The Pueblo of Acoma, which joined the Committee in defending the listing, challenged whether the Rayellen parties who are private landowners had standing to appeal because they were explicitly excluded from the listing. In reaching the merits of the case, the district court found that the listing did not violate constitutional protections against the establishment of religion and that the Committee did not violate due process guarantees by following federal guidelines for the listing. The district court reversed the listing nevertheless on the grounds that personal notice of the permanent listing’s public comment period was not provided to all affected property owners, including mineral rights holders, in violation of due process guarantees, and that both the mountain’s sheer size and the private property exclusions made it impracticable to comply with provisions in the Cultural Properties Act relating to integrity of place, required inspections, and required maintenance. The district court also reversed the inclusion of the 19,000 acres of Cebolleta Land Grant common lands in the listing because land grant common lands are not subject to regulation as state land under the Cultural Properties Act. Acoma Pueblo petitioned for certiorari in the Court of Appeals on the three listing issues which the district court reversed, and the Rayellen parties cross-petitioned on other issues as to which they had not prevailed in the district court. The Court of Appeals granted those petitions as well as motions to intervene from Laguna Pueblo and the Committee. Without deciding any of the issues, the Court of Appeals then certified the entire case to the Supreme Court. After its review, the Supreme Court affirmed in part the Committee’s decision and held that the Mount Taylor listing was lawful under the Cultural Properties Act and that the proceedings before the Committee did not violate the constitutional guarantee of due process of law. The Court reversed the Committee’s inclusion of 19,000 acres of Cebolleta Land Grant property and held that land grant property is not state land as defined in the Cultural Properties Act. View "Rayellen Resources, Inc. v. Lyons" on Justia Law

by
The Public Regulation Commission (PRC) issued Moongate Water Company (Moongate) a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CCN) authorizing Moongate, as a public utility, to provide water to an area located outside the city limits of Las Cruces (the "certificated area.") Las Cruces later annexed three undeveloped tracts of land within Moongate's certificated area, and Las Cruces committed itself to provide water to this area despite Moongate's CCN. The Supreme Court addressed two questions in this appeal: (1) did Moongate have a right to provide water within the certificated area to the exclusion of Las Cruces?; and (2) did Las Cruces engage in an unlawful taking of Moongate's property entitling Moongate to just compensation when Las Cruces chose to provide water within the certificated area? The Court answered both questions in the negative: (1) because Las Cruces was not subject to the Public Utilities Act (the PUA); and (2) because on the record before the Court, Moongate did not prove that it had established infrastructure and was already serving customers in the annexed area. "Absent such proof of a tangible loss, a public utility is not entitled to just compensation when a municipality lawfully exercises its right to serve in the public utility's certificated area." The Court therefore affirmed the Court of Appeals and reversed the district court. View "Moongate Water Co., Inc. v. City of Las Cruces" on Justia Law

by
Santa Fe Pacific Trust, Inc. (SFPT) and Bigbyte are Florida corporations doing business in New Mexico. SFPT owns land and an office building on Central Avenue in Albuquerque and leases most of its commercial space to Bigbyte. In 2006, SFPT filed a four-count complaint against the City of Albuquerque (the City) alleging that the City periodically stated its intention to condemn the Central Avenue property owned by SFPT and claiming damages for inverse condemnation and taking, deprivation of due process, and tortious interference with contract. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as to Bigbyte because all of Bigbyte's claims had been disposed of by summary judgment one year earlier, making a November 2010 notice of appeal untimely. The Supreme Court addressed whether the interlocutory appeal language in the year-old summary judgment, which Bigbyte requested, should have been interpreted to mean that the summary judgment was not a final order. If the year-old summary judgment was not a final order, the Court of Appeals should not have dismissed the appeal. Based on the summary judgment language and Rules 1-054(B)(1)-(2) and 12-203 NMRA, the Supreme Court concluded that the summary judgment was a final order because all of Bigbyte's claims had been disposed of and the summary judgment did not contain express language stating that the summary judgment was not a final order as to Bigbyte. Therefore, the Court affirmed the Court of Appeals' dismissal of the appeal.View "Santa Fe Pacific Trust, Inc. v. City of Albuquerque" on Justia Law

by
Defendant-Appellee the Village of Angel Fire (the Village) held an election to determine whether a public improvement district (PID) should be formed within its boundaries, after supporters of the PID petitioned the Village to do so. The requisite majority of eligible voters approved formation of the PID. Plaintiffs-Appellants Ron Glaser and his wife, Theresa Cull, Cheryl Host and several others, owners of real property located in Angel Fire, filed suit in district court, seeking a declaration that the PID formation election was procedurally defective and therefore void, that the PID lacked legal existence, and that a special levy approved and assessed by the PID was invalid. The district court dismissed Appellants' complaint as untimely, and Appellants sought review by the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals determined that Appellants’ complaint presented an election contest, which was subject to a thirty-day statute of limitations under the Election Code. The Court further determined that because Appellants waited more than one year to file suit, their complaint was time-barred. After thoroughly analyzing these issues, however, the Court of Appeals ultimately concluded that it lacked jurisdiction and transferred the appeal to the Supreme Court, pursuant to the Election Code’s directive that appeals in election contest proceedings should be made directly to the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Supreme Court adopted the appellate court's reasoning for dismissing Appellants' case. View "Glaser v. LeBus" on Justia Law

by
In 1985, at the behest of the City of Rio Rancho, Amrep Southwest Inc. recorded a plat for the Vista Hills West Unit 1 (VHWU1) subdivision, granting the City a drainage easement over ten acres identified as 'Parcel F.' In 2004, Amrep sold Parcel F to the Mares Group in fee simple, subject to the drainage easement. Mares in turn sold it to Cloudview Estates in fee simple, subject to the same recorded drainage easement. Cloudview asked the City to vacate the drainage easement and subdivide the parcel into thirty lots. The City declined because it found that the City and Amrep had originally intended to perpetually dedicate Parcel F as open space, and as such, had a claim to the property's title. The issue before the Supreme Court was: even if the City and Amrep intended Parcel F to be open space, what effect did the recorded plat designating Parcel F as a drainage easement have on Cloudview's subsequent purchase of Parcel F? Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that Cloudview was a good faith purchaser and the plat did not specifically designate Parcel F for public use. The recorded plat unambiguously granted the City an easement for the specific purpose of drainage, thereby extinguishing any unrecorded interests and relieving Cloudview from its duty to diligently investigate whether the City had other adverse claims to the property title. The Court ruled in favor of Cloudview. View "City of Rio Rancho v. Amrep SW, Inc. " on Justia Law