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Riverside Meadows I, LLC v. City of Jeffersonville

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 30, 2017

Riverside Meadows I, LLC, Appellant-Petitioner,
v.
City of Jeffersonville, Indiana Board of Zoning Appeals, Appellee-Respondent.

         Appeal from the Clark Circuit Court Trial Court Cause No. 10C04-1412-PL-144 The Honorable Vicki L. Carmichael, Judge

          Attorney for Appellant Christopher L. King Lorch Naville Ward, LLC New Albany, Indiana

          Attorney for Appellee Leslie D. Merkley Corporation Counsel for the City of Jeffersonville, Indiana Jeffersonville, Indiana

          Mathias, Judge.

         [¶1] Riverside Meadows I, LLC ("Riverside") appeals the order of the Clark Circuit Court denying Riverside's petition for judicial review of the decision of the City of Jeffersonville's Board of Zoning Appeals ("the BZA"). Riverside presents two issues, which we consolidate and restate as whether the trial court erred by concluding that the findings of fact entered by the BZA were sufficient to permit judicial review.

         [¶2] We reverse and remand.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] Riverside owns a building located on East Chestnut Street in Jeffersonville, Indiana ("the Property"). Riverside is owned by Fouzia Shahnawaz ("Shahnawaz"), and the Property is managed by her husband, Shawn Zamir ("Zamir"). The Property was constructed in the 1920s as a convent and has fourteen bedrooms plus some common areas.

         [¶4] At the time relevant to this appeal, Riverside had rented out the rooms in this building to eleven adults, ranging in age from forty-eight to eighty-four. In addition, Riverside provided meals, laundry service, and light housekeeping for the residents. The Property, however, is zoned as M-1 (low density multifamily residential), and the City of Jeffersonville ("the City") notified Riverside that its use of the Property was in violation of the City's zoning ordinances.

         [¶5] Accordingly, Riverside filed an application for a use variance with the BZA, seeking to operate the Property as a "rooming house."[1] At a meeting held on October 28, 2014, the BZA considered Riverside's request for a variance. The BZA heard evidence from proponents and opponents of the variance. At the conclusion of the hearing, the BZA members took a vote and denied Riverside's request for a variance.

         [¶6] According to the official minutes of the meeting, the BZA determined that:

1. The variance of use will not be injurious to the public health, safety, moral and general welfare of the community;
2. The use and value of the area adjacent to the property will not be adversely affected;
3. The need for a use variance does result from conditions unusual or peculiar to the subject property itself;
4. The strict application of the terms of the Jeffersonville Zoning Ordinance would result in an unnecessary hardship in the use of the property; and
5. The approval of the variance does not contradict the goals and objectives of the Comprehensive Plan.

Ex. Vol., Respondent's Ex. A, p. 6 (emphases added). However, the transcript of the meeting indicates that the BZA members actually disagreed with the above-mentioned statements. Id., Petitioner's Ex. 2, pp. 10-12.

         [¶7] The BZA also issued a document entitled "Findings of Fact of Jeffersonville Board of Zoning Appeals, " which is a preprinted document filled in with relevant information and which provides in relevant part as follows:

The Board of Zoning Appeals of the City of Jeffersonville, Indiana, having heard the application for variance described above, and all opposition from parties claiming to be adversely affected thereby, does now enter the following findings:
1. The variance of use will not be injurious to the public health, safety, moral, and general welfare of the community.

[BZA] Members:

M.M[2]

M.P.B.

R.F.

M.C.

J.R.

Voting Agree

Voting Disagree

         2. The use and value of the area adjacent to the property will not be adversely affected.

[BZA] Members:

M.M

M.P.B.

R.F.

M.C.

J.R.

Voting Agree

Voting Disagree

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