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Chrismon v. Guilford County

322 N.C. 611, 370 S.E.2d 579 (1988)

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Chrismon v. Guilford County

Supreme Court of North Carolina

322 N.C. 611, 370 S.E.2d 579 (1988)

Facts

Bruce Clapp operated a business on part of his property. Clapp sold grain, pesticides, lime, and fertilizer. In 1964, Guilford County (defendant) enacted a comprehensive zoning ordinance. The ordinance zoned Clapp’s property as agricultural. The surrounding area was also zoned for agricultural use and was used for farming. The sale of grain was permitted in the zone, but the sale of pesticides, lime, and fertilizer was not. However, Clapp was permitted to continue such sales as a preexisting nonconforming use so long as the use did not expand. In 1969, William and Evelyn Chrismon (plaintiffs) bought property next to another portion of Clapp’s land and used it for residential purposes. In 1980, Clapp moved his business operations to the part of his land adjacent to the Chrismons’ house. The county granted Clapp’s application to rezone that tract to “Conditional Use Industrial District.” The county then issued Clapp a conditional-use permit, permitting Clapp to use the land for his sale of pesticides, lime, and fertilizer, but not for other industrial uses. Testimony before the county indicated that Clapp’s business provided a substantial benefit to farmers in the area. Indeed, no one besides the Chrismons objected to the rezoning. The Chrismons sued the county, seeking to invalidate the rezoning and special-use permit. The trial court upheld the zoning decisions. The court of appeals reversed, finding that the rezoning constituted illegal spot zoning and contract zoning. The county appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Meyer, J.)

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