Zoning and Subdivision Regulation

Barnes, et al. v. Town Council of Perdido Beach, [Ms. 1210072, Oct. 21, 2022] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2022). The Court (Mendheim, J.; Parker, C.J., and Shaw, Bryan, and Mitchell, JJ., concur) affirms the Baldwin Circuit Court’s judgment in favor of the Town of Perdido Beach entered following a bench trial in an action seeking an injunction to prevent the Town from “building a public boat launch and pier at the end of State Street and to establish a public park on the subject property….”

The Court holds that “the Town Council is performing a governmental function in undertaking the boat-launch project, it is not bound by the wetland-setback provision in the subdivision regulations ... [or] the wetland-setback provision in the zoning ordinance.” Ms. *39.

The Court also affirms as to the challenge to the zoning amendments that facilitated the boat-launch project:

[T]he circuit court did not err in declining to invalidate the zoning amendments on the basis that the amendments made the boat-launch project easier to achieve. The Town Council determined that the project would benefit the community as a whole, and conflicting evidence was presented at trial concerning that determination. “[L]ocal governing authorities are presumed to have a superior opportunity to know and consider the varied and conflicting interests involved, to balance the burdens and benefits and to consider the general welfare of the area involved. ... They, therefore, must of necessity be accorded considerable freedom to exercise discretion not diminished by judicial intrusion.” City of Birmingham v. Morris, 396 So. 2d 53, 55 (Ala. 1981). The circuit court properly recognized the discretion that should be afforded to the Town Council. Because “the adoption of the [zoning amendments] raises questions upon which reasonable differences may exist in view of all the circumstances, and the wisdom of the [amendments] is fairly debatable, then the action of a municipal governing body in adopting the [amendments] will not be deemed arbitrary.” Homewood Citizens Ass’n, 548 So. 2d 142, 143-44 (Ala. 1989).

Ms. *48 (some internal quotation marks omitted).

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