Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Court reviews whether an ordinance regulating the parking of tractor-trailers is a zoning or property maintenance regulation

TOWN OF SMYRNA, TENNESSEE v. PERRY BELL (Tenn. Ct. App. November 1, 2011)

The Town of Smyrna annexed land in 1991 that included a retail furniture store. The owner of that business kept a number of tractor-trailers parked on his property to store some of his inventory. Several years after the annexation, the town cited the owner in an attempt to enforce a municipal ordinance regulating the parking of tractor-trailers on commercially zoned property. The municipal court ruled against the owner. He appealed to the Circuit Court, which held that the ordinance in question was a zoning regulation and that the owner's use of the tractor- trailers was protected by the grandfathering provisions of Tenn. Code Ann. section 13-7-208(b)(1).

The town contends on appeal to this court that the ordinance is a property maintenance regulation rather than a zoning regulation and that the owner's use of the tractor-trailers is therefore not entitled to the protection of the grandfather clause. We agree, and we reverse the Circuit Court because the proof does not indicate that compliance with the ordinance would substantially interfere with the store owner's use of the property as a retail furniture business. Thus, it cannot be considered a zoning ordinance as applied to him under the standard established by our Supreme Court in Cherokee Country Club v. City of Knoxville, 152 S.W.2d 466 (Tenn. 2004).

Opinion available at: