Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the circuit court that reversed the Department of Administration's approval of a cooperative plan (Plan) between the Village of Kekoskee and the Town of Williamstown and remanded the matter back to the Department, holding that the Department erroneously interpreted Wis. Stat. 66.0307(2) in approving the Plan.The circuit court concluded that section 66.0307(2), the cooperative plan statute, did not permit municipalities to use cooperative plans to absorb and entire town into a village. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the Plan changed the City of Mayville's boundary line such that Mayville was required to be a party to the Plan. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Mayville had standing to seek judicial review of the Plan; (2) the Plan changed Mayville's boundary line, and therefore, section 66.0307(2) required that Mayville be a party to the Plan; and (3) because Mayville was not a party to the Plan, the Department erred in approving the Plan. View "City of Mayville v. State of Wisconsin Department of Administration" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Kemper Independence Insurance Company denying coverage to Appellant for the loss of her home, holding that Kemper was not required to provide coverage for the loss of the home after Appellant's husband intentionally set fire to it.The parties stipulated that, with the intent to deceive, the husband concealed from Kemper facts about his involvement in the fire, and Kemper relied on that concealment and fraud to its detriment. The circuit court concluded that the "concealment or fraud" condition in the insurance policy covering the home barred coverage for Appellant's claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the husband was an insured under the terms of the policy; (2) the policy's "concealment or fraud" condition precluded coverage for Appellant; and (3) Wis. Stat. 631.95(2)(f) did not apply. View "Kemper Independence Insurance Co. v. Islami" on Justia Law

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In this inverse condemnation complaint brought by a property owner, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's grant of a motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by the Department of Transportation (DOT), holding that the circuit court properly granted DOT's motion for judgment on the pleadings.Southport Commons, LLC filed suit against DOT, claiming inverse condemnation arising from a construction project that resulted in a change to Southport's land. DOT moved for judgment on the pleadings, asserting that Southport failed to file its notice of claim within three years of when the damage occurred, as required by Wis. Stat. 88.87(2)(c). The circuit court agreed and granted the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the notice of claim period in section 88.87(2)(c) begins to run when the damage happens or takes place; and (2) Southport did not raise a genuine issue of material fact as to the date of damage. View "Southport Commons, LLC v. Wisconsin Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the determination of the City of Milwaukee Board of Review that Petitioner's property was properly assessed at a value of $31,800, holding that the assessor properly considered the impairment of the property's value due to contamination in arriving at a valuation pursuant to Wis. Stat. 70.32(1m).On appeal, Petitioner argued that because the property was contaminated he could not sell it, and therefore, the assessed value should be zero dollars. Further, Petitioner argued that the City of Milwaukee Environmental Contamination Standards (CMECS) conflict with Wis. Stat. 70.32. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) by utilizing the income approach to value the property according to its highest and best use as a parking lot, the assessor properly considered the contained nature of the property in arriving at a valuation; and (2) this Court declines to address Petitioner's challenge to the CMECS because the assessor did not rely on the CMECS in the assessment of Petitioner's property. View "Collison v. City of Milwaukee Board of Review" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals holding that a diminution in property value that results from changing the grade of a highway abutting the property does not qualify as "damages to the lands" under Wis. Stat. 32.18.When the Department of Transportation (DOT) changed the grade of a highway that abuts United America, LLC's property, access to United America's property became less convenient. Therefore, the property's value decreased. United America brought this action alleging that section 32.18 entitled it to damages to its lands, property, and property value brought about by the change in grade. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of United America. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plain meaning of "damages to the lands" in section 32.18 did not encompass United America's diminution in property value. View "United America, LLC v. Wisconsin Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing in part the circuit court's determination that the price for certain property was $16.6 million and granting County Visions Cooperative fifteen days to exercise its right of first refusal at that price, holding that a circuit court may set an exercise price that exceeds the appraised value of the burdened property.The circuit court granted Country Visions specific performance of its right of first refusal to a property that Archer-Daniel-Midland Co. was attempting to sell. At issue was whether the circuit court correctly set the price at which Country Visions could exercise its right of first refusal. The court of appeals concluded that the circuit court did not err in how it determined the appropriate right of first refusal exercise price but remanded the case for a determination of whether the $16.6 million price included personal property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court properly considered the unique synergies that the property provided when it set the exercise price higher than the appraised value; but (2) remand was necessary to determine whether the $16.6 million exercise price included more than what was called for in the right of first refusal contract. View "Country Visions Cooperative v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court reversing the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) and dismissing Plaintiff's action asserting that DOT's jurisdictional offer to purchase Plaintiff's land was invalid, holding that the jurisdictional offer was valid.In this complaint, Plaintiff argued that the jurisdictional offer was invalid because DOT failed to provide a proper initial appraisal. The Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of DOT, holding that the jurisdictional offer was valid because it was based upon an initial appraisal of all property proposed to be acquired pursuant to Wis. Stat. 32.05(2)(a)-(b) and (3)(e). View "Christus Lutheran Church of Appleton v. Wisconsin Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the circuit court requiring Polk Properties, LLC and its sole member (collectively, Polk) to pay forfeitures for zoning violations, damages for the Village of Slinger's lost property tax revenue, and fees, holding that Polk did not abandon its nonconforming use.At issue was whether Polk abandoned the legal nonconforming use of the subject property after its zoning classification was changed from agricultural to residential. The circuit court enjoined Polk from using the property for agricultural reasons and imposed forfeitures, a monetary judgment for real estate taxes, and an order authorizing special assessments, special charges, and fees to be levied against Polk. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Polk's use of the property constituted a lawful nonconforming use for which Polk could not be penalized. View "Village of Slinger v. Polk Properties, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's order upholding the Town of Newbold's denial of Petitioner's attempt to subdivide his property, holding that the Town ordinance precluding the subdivision was a permissible exercise of the Town's subdivision authority pursuant to Wis. Stat. 236.45.The Town denied Petitioner's proposed subdivision because the two resulting lots would not meet the Town's applicable minimum shoreline frontage requirement, as set forth in the Town ordinance. On appeal, Petitioner argued that the minimum shoreline frontage requirement was unenforceable because it was a shoreline zoning regulation that the Town did not have the authority to enact. The Supreme Court rejected the argument, holding that the ordinance was a permissible exercise of the Town's subdivision authority, and therefore, the Town proceeded on a correct theory of law when it denied Petitioner's request to subdivide his property. View "Anderson v. Town of Newbold" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of a local zoning court of appeals approving homeowners' variance request, holding that, pursuant to Wis. Stat. 62.23(7)(e)10., certiorari review of the board's decision is triggered when a written copy of the decision is filed in the board's office.The homeowners in this case petitioned the Village of Williams Bay Extraterritorial Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance request. The Board unanimously approved the variance. Plaintiff, the homeowners' neighbor, filed for a writ of certiorari within thirty days after the Board orally voted to grant the variance but before the Board issued and filed a written copy of its decision. The circuit court affirmed the Board's decision. The court of appeals affirmed. At issue on appeal was whether the court of appeals properly determined what constitutes the "triggering event" for purposes of appealing the Board's decision on a writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an aggrieved party's right to certiorari review is triggered when a written copy of a zoning board of appeals' decision is filed in the office of the board; (2) the Board's written decision and approved minutes were properly included in the certiorari record; and (3) the Board acted under the correct theory of law. View "Moreschi v. Village of Williams Bay" on Justia Law