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Smith v. City of Little Rock

Supreme Court of Arkansas
648 S.W.2d 454 (1983)


Facts

The Little Rock City Board of Directors (the Board) (defendants) voted to change the zoning classification of a parcel of land located in a residential neighborhood. The prior zoning classification of the property had been for single family and quiet office use. The new zoning classification was for general commercial use, for the purpose of allowing a Wendy’s restaurant to be built there. The surrounding properties on the block were residential. The owners of the surrounding properties (plaintiffs) sued in chancery court to have the rezoning set aside. The plaintiffs presented evidence that their neighborhood was largely residential and that a Wendy’s would have detrimental effects, including increased traffic, noise, litter, odor, and bright lights at night. They testified they had relied on the residential zoning of the neighborhood when they made improvements to their properties. The plaintiffs further argued the rezoning was inconsistent with the applicable guide for land-use decisions in the city. Additionally, the plaintiffs argued the rezoning would be spot zoning and therefore inherently arbitrary. Spot zoning is singling out a particular property by rezoning it for use inconsistent with its prior use and the predominant use of neighboring properties. Jerry Speece, the zoning administrator for the city, testified that there were already businesses further down the street from the rezoned property, as well as within six blocks east and three blocks west of the property. Speece stated that because of these other businesses in the vicinity, the rezoning was not spot zoning. Additionally, Speece asserted the traffic on the street of the property was below capacity. Speece further testified that the guide for land-use decisions was merely advisory, and the rezoning was in any case not inconsistent with the guide. The chancellor, holding there was a presumption the Board acted in a reasonable manner and the plaintiffs had failed to meet their burden of showing the Board acted arbitrarily and capriciously, denied the plaintiffs’ petition. The plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court of Arkansas.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Holt, J.)

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Dissent (Hickman, J.)

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