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Western Farm Products, LLC, Inc. v. Sumner County

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

June 19, 2017


          Session May 3, 2016

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Sumner County No. 2011CV421 Joe H. Thompson, Chancellor

         A property owner who wished to construct and operate a quarry sought a declaratory judgment that a Sumner County Zoning Resolution, which was alleged to exclude quarrying and mining activities, is unconstitutional and in violation of the Tennessee zoning enabling statutes. A group of adjoining property owners were permitted to intervene in the proceeding, and the court granted summary judgment to the county and adjoining property owners. The property owner now appeals. We find that the evidence relied upon by the property owner does not establish that the ordinance at issue prohibits all quarrying activities and affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Affirmed

          Thomas V. White and George A. Dean, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Western Farm Products LLC, Inc.

          Leah May Dennen, Gallatin, Tennessee; and A. Scott Derrick, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sumner County, Tennessee.

          David M. Amonette, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the intervening appellees, Thomas Neal, Jr., Lester Lonzo Luce, Carol Dee Luce, John J. Simons, and Allyson Simons.

          Richard H. Dinkins, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., and Thomas R. Frierson, II, J., joined.



         This is the second appeal in this case. In the first appeal, styled Western Farm Products, LLC v. Sumner County, No. M2013-01578-COA-R3-CV, 2014 WL 1852973 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 5, 2014), Western Farm Products, LLC ("Western") appealed the dismissal of its petition for certiorari review of the Sumner County Board of Zoning Appeals' denial of a conditional use permit to operate a quarry on its 350 acres of property which is currently zoned RIA, general residential; we affirmed the trial court. On September 2, 2011, the same day it filed the petition for certiorari, Western filed a declaratory judgment action naming Sumner County ("the County") as defendant; no action was taken on that case while the certiorari case was on appeal. The instant appeal is from the trial court's grant of summary judgment against Western in the declaratory judgment action.

         Western sought a declaration that the Sumner County Zoning Resolution, which operates as the county's zoning plan, did not specifically permit mining and quarrying in the county, and that the exclusion of these activities violated the Tennessee Constitution and zoning statutes at Tennessee Code Annotated section 13-7-101, et seq. Western requested that the court, inter alia, issue an injunction preventing the County from excluding mining and quarrying activity and order the County to issue Western a building permit or certificate of occupancy for the proposed quarry.[1] Thomas Neal, Jr., Lester Lonzo Luce and wife, Carol Dee Luce, and John J. Simons and wife, Allyson Simons, owners of property adjacent to Western's property (the "Intervenors"), were allowed to intervene in the case; they opposed Western's proposed use of its property, contending that Western's proposal "to operate a quarry with asphalt and concrete plants and rock crushing facilities . . . would dramatically impact the nature and value of [their] adjoining property, as well as [their] peace and enjoyment of same."

         In due course, the Intervenors moved for summary judgment, contending that the action taken by the Sumner County Board of Commissioners on May 19, 2014, to amend the Zoning Resolution to create a floating district entitled the "Mining and Quarrying Floating Zone, " which serves as a floating zone over areas which are zoned Industrial, permits the activities in which Western is engaged and, therefore, rendered Western's action moot. The trial court held that the Zoning Resolution, as amended, permitted mining and quarrying and, consequently, granted summary judgment to the Intervenors.[2]Western appeals, raising the following issue: "Whether the Sumner County Zoning Regulations effectively excludes quarries from locating within the county?"


         This case, filed on September 2, 2011, was resolved on motion for summary judgment. A party is entitled to summary judgment only if the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits…show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Tenn. R. Civ. P. 56.04.[3] We review the trial court's ruling on a motion for summary judgment de novo with no presumption of correctness, as the resolution of the motion is a matter of law. Rye v. Women's Care Ctr. of Memphis, MPLLC, 477 S.W.3d 235, 250 (Tenn. 2015) (citing Bain v. Wells,936 S.W.2d 618, 622 (Tenn. 1997); Abshure v. Methodist Healthcare-Memphis Hosp., 325 S.W.3d 98, 103 (Tenn. 2010)). We view ...

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