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Metz v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

October 17, 2017

GEORGE METZ, ET AL.
v.
METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY, TN, ET AL.

          Session August 23, 2017

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Davidson County No. 16-507-II Carol L. McCoy, Chancellor[1]

         This appeal concerns a determination by the Planning Commission ("the Commission") of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County ("Metro") that the Forest View Park planned unit development was "active." Certain Forest View neighbors ("Petitioners") filed a petition for writ of certiorari against respondents Metro and The Ridge at Antioch, Limited Partnership ("Respondents, " collectively) in the Chancery Court for Davidson County ("the Trial Court") challenging the Commission's decision. Metro filed a motion to dismiss. After a hearing, the Trial Court entered an order dismissing the petition for writ of certiorari for lack of jurisdiction. The Trial Court found fatal defects in the petition for writ of certiorari, including that it was not supported by oath as required. Petitioners appeal to this Court. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

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

          Gina Crawley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Marilyn Metz, George Metz, Aubrey Pearson, Jacqueline Pearson, Berry Wright, and Evelyn Wright.

          Jon Cooper, Director of Law, Lora Barkenbus Fox, and Catherine J. Pham, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

          William N. Helou, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, The Ridge at Antioch, Limited Partnership.

          D. Michael Swiney, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Andy D. Bennett and John W. McClarty, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE

         Background

         Three decisions arising from three meetings of the Commission, all related to affordable housing development, are at issue on appeal. These meetings took place on March 24, April 14, and May 12, 2016. On April 14, the minutes of the March 24 meeting were approved and signed. On April 28, the minutes of the April 14 meeting were approved and signed. Finally, on May 26, the minutes of the May 12 meeting were approved and signed. As a result of these meetings, the Commission determined that the Forest View Park planned unit development was active.

         On May 16, 2016, Petitioners filed their petition for writ of certiorari and supersedeas seeking review of the Commission's decision. The petition alleged, in part, that "the Commission acted in an arbitrary and judicially excessive manner when it found the Forest View Park PUD to be active." The petition was not supported by oath. On May 23, 2016, Petitioners filed an amended petition. The amended petition was not supported by oath either. On June 6, 2016, Petitioners filed yet another amended petition, which also was not supported by oath. On August 5, 2016, Metro filed a motion to dismiss. Only on August 15 did Petitioners file a proposed new petition that was sworn to and otherwise compliant with the requirements for a petition for writ of certiorari. On August 19, 2016, the Trial Court conducted a hearing on Metro's motion to dismiss. On August 30, 2016, the Trial Court entered an order granting Metro's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The Trial Court stated, as pertinent:

The Court finds that the latest of the challenged Planning Commission decisions was made May 12, 2016. The Petition was filed May 16, 2016. The Petition does not state that it is the first application for the writ and is not verified as required under the Tennessee Constitution.
The minutes approving the May 12 decision were approved and signed on May 26, 2016. More than sixty days have passed since those minutes were approved and signed. Because the Petition does not state that it is the first application for the writ and is not verified, the Court has no jurisdiction to review the Planning Commission's decision. Nor does the Court have jurisdiction to grant a motion to amend the petition or to convert it to a declaratory judgment action. Pursuant to Article VI, Section 10 of the Tennessee Constitution and Talley v. Bd. of Prof'l Responsibility, 358 S.W.3d 185, 192 (Tenn. 2011), this case is DISMISSED. Costs are hereby taxed to Petitioners. This is the final order.

         Petitioners subsequently filed their "motion requesting relief." On October 20, 2016, the Trial Court entered its order denying Petitioners' motion ...


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