Valenti v. Hopkins

324 Or. 324, 926 P.2d 813 (1996)

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Valenti v. Hopkins

Oregon Supreme Court
324 Or. 324, 926 P.2d 813 (1996)

Facts

In 1988, John G. Valenti and Margaret M. Valenti (plaintiffs) bought a home in West Ridge Subdivision. The home was on the east side of West Ridge Avenue, and the Valentis had unobstructed mountain views both to the east and to the west. At the time the Valentis bought their home, the subdivision’s restrictive covenants prohibited the construction of homes whose height materially restricted the views of any other lot owners. The covenants also granted the subdivision’s architectural-control committee (ACC) sole authority to judge the suitability of the heights of improvements. In 1989, the covenants were amended to prohibit only the obstruction of adjacent lot owners’ views. In 1990, Benjamin T. Hopkins and Susan Hopkins (defendants) bought a lot on the west side of West Ridge Avenue, across the street from the Valentis’ home, and submitted plans for a two-story home to the ACC. The Valentis objected, arguing that the Hopkinses’ proposed home would obstruct their western view. The ACC approved the Hopkinses’ plans, reasoning that the covenants did not protect the Valentis’ western view because their home was across the street from, and not adjacent to, the Hopkinses’ lot. The Hopkinses began constructing their home, and the Valentis sued. The circuit court found for the Hopkinses, reasoning that the ACC had not acted arbitrarily or unreasonably in approving the Hopkinses’ plans. The court of appeals conducted a de novo review of the trial court’s decision and found for the Valentis. Specifically, the court determined that the parties’ lots were adjacent, the Valentis were entitled to an unobstructed view to the west over the Hopkinses’ lot, and the Hopkinses had violated the covenants by building a home that obstructed the Valentis’ western view. The Hopkinses appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court, arguing that the court of appeals had erred by conducting a de novo review of the matter.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Van Hoomissen, J.)

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