Matthew A. Griffith
Marguerite M. Sweeney
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE
Matthew A. Griffith
Marguerite M. Sweeney
the specific language of the relevant ordinance, giving its words their plain, ordinary, and
usual meaning. Each municipality is, subject to constitutional limitations, free to enact an
ordinance that limits the expansion of nonconforming uses in the manner and to the degree
that it deems appropriate.
Development Commission of Marion County brought an action against Ragucci alleging that
his building was in violation of the DDZO. Ragucci asserted a legally established
nonconforming use and both Ragucci and the Commission moved for summary judgment.
The trial court concluded that the creation of the additional apartments was a violation of the
DDZO and granted the Commission's motion. A divided Court of Appeals reversed and
directed that summary judgment be entered in favor of Ragucci. Ragucci v. Metropolitan
Dev. Comm'n, 685 N.E.2d 104 (Ind. Ct. App. 1997). We granted transfer.
package liquor store did not authorize the change of its use to a tavern); Chizum v. Elkhart
County Plan Comm'n, 147 Ind. App. 691, 263 N.E.2d 654 (1970) (poles and lights for night
racing could not be erected at nonconforming daytime drag racing track); O'Banion v. State
ex rel. Shively, 146 Ind. App. 223, 253 N.E.2d 739 (1969) (nonconforming sale of beer did
not justify use of property for the sale of any other alcoholic beverage).
A. The legal standard for evaluating a nonconforming use
The 1966 DDZO authorized and at the same time restricted nonconforming uses in the following provisions:
1. With the exception of legally established nonconforming uses, no land, building, structure, premises or part thereof shall be used or occupied except in conformity with these regulations and for uses permitted by this ordinance.
2. No building, structure, premises or part thereof shall be constructed, erected, converted, enlarged, extended, reconstructed, or relocated except in conformity with these regulations and for uses permitted by this ordinance.
Marion County, Ind., Dwelling Districts Zoning Ordinance § 2.00(A) (1966).
Although quoting this language and acknowledging that the DDZO was relevant to our analysis, Ragucci, 685 N.E.2d at 105 n.2, the Court of Appeals majority did not address the particular language of the DDZO. Rather, the majority took the view that the changes were permitted because the alteration of the Hatherleigh to create additional apartments is most appropriately characterized as an intensification of the nonconforming use which does not have the effect of extinguishing it. Id. at 106.See footnote 2
others, such as the DDZO, are written very restrictively to prohibit any changes to a building
or part thereof.
Ragucci cites several cases of varying degrees of factual similarity to his own situation. These various authorities underscore the need to examine the language of the ordinance at issue. For example, in Schmith, the ordinance at issue merely prohibited alterations or repairs that would change the height, size or lateral bulk of the structure[.] Id. at 545, 329 N.E.2d at 611. The building was located in an area zoned for single-family dwellings, but had been established as a nonconforming use as a home for wayward girls and later to house four families. The city denied the owner permission to renovate, rearrange certain rooms and add two more bathrooms. The Court of Appeals allowed the alterations, noting that Schmith's structure had been used as a multiple family dwelling for approximately forty years and whether denominated 'rooming house', 'multiple dwelling', or 'apartment use', it remained a unified structure devoted to the housing of unrelated persons with no change in its height, size or lateral bulk. Id. Similarly, Schneider v. Board of Appeals, 84 N.E.2d 428 (Ill. 1949) held that interior alterations to a nonconforming apartment house changing it from five to ten apartments was a permissible extension. The ordinance there provided that the area occupied by a nonconforming use
may be enlarged, provided such enlargement shall not exceed an area equal to 50% of the area of the ground floor of that part of the building in which said non- conforming use is situated, or such use may be extended throughout the building, provided no structural alterations are made therein.
Id. at 430-31. In light of the language of the relevant ordinances, Schmith and Schneider do
little to bolster Ragucci's argument that his factually similar modifications are not a violation
of the very differently worded DDZO.
As suggested by Schmith itself, the language of the ordinance is the primary concern. Drawing conclusions from the cases is dangerous because the zoning regulations governing nonconforming uses vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. 164 Ind. App. at 544, 329 N.E.2d at 611. This is true both from state to state and also from municipality to municipality within this state. As noted in the A.L.R. annotation cited in Schmith as the source of the four factors, the right to alter or extend a nonconforming structure depend[s] primarily on the terms of the applicable zoning ordinance and the nature or extent of the alteration or extension[.] Annotation, Zoning Changes, Repairs, or Replacements in Continuation of Nonconforming Use, 87 A.L.R.2d 4, 71 (1963). Differences in applicable zoning regulations, and in the circumstances under which the question arose, have led to different conclusions as to the right to enlarge or extend an existing nonconforming use. Id. at 15. Moreover, Indiana land use jurisprudence since Schmith has reiterated the importance of ordinance language without mentioning the four factor test. See, e.g., Taylor, 436 N.E.2d at 1158 ([t]he extent to which a change is permissible depends upon the provision of the zoning ordinance); Jacobs v. Mishawaka Bd. of Zoning Appeals, 182 Ind. App. 500, 502, 395 N.E.2d 834, 836 (1979) ([e]ach case involves and requires a determination and consideration of the facts of the particular case measured against the
language of the applicable ordinance or statute).See footnote
Accordingly, we reject the four factor test
relied upon by the Court of Appeals majority in this case as a general test for evaluating
B. The relevant DDZO provisions
Interpretation of an ordinance is subject to the same rules that govern the construction of a statute. Ad Craft, Inc. v. Board of Zoning Appeals, 693 N.E.2d 110, 114 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998), trans. denied. Words are to be given their plain, ordinary, and usual meaning, unless a contrary purpose is shown by the statute or ordinance itself. Cox v. Worker's Compensation Bd., 675 N.E.2d 1053, 1057 (Ind. 1996). If the legislative intent is clear from the language of the statute, the language prevails and will be given effect. State ex rel. Indiana & Michigan Electric Co. v. Sullivan Circuit Court, 456 N.E.2d 1019, 1020 (Ind. 1983). We believe that the DDZO clearly demonstrates the intent of the Marion County Council to constrain the expansion of nonconforming uses.
The DDZO provides that: (1) [n]o building . . . or part thereof (2) shall be . . . converted (3) except in conformity with these regulations and for uses permitted by this ordinance. DDZO § 2.00 (A)(2) (1966). As an initial matter then the question in this case is whether either dividing two two-bedroom apartments into four one-bedroom apartments or changing an unoccupied attic into a three-bedroom apartment violates this provision.
First, the apartments and the attic plainly are governed by the ordinance because each is a
part of the building. Ragucci contends that the Court of Appeals majority was correct not
to segregate the Hatherleigh into small fractions and to consider [it instead] as a single
building with a singular 'zoning use.' Brief in Opposition to Petition for Rehearing at 14.
However, this argument ignores the language of the DDZO and instead seeks to rely on cases
interpreting significantly different ordinance language. See, e.g., Schmith, 164 Ind. at 545,
329 N.E.2d at 611. Moreover, this contention is inconsistent with Indiana case law that has
considered a nonconforming piece of land in terms of its fractional parts for purposes of a
zoning ordinance that prohibited the expansion of nonconforming uses. See Stuckman, 506
N.E.2d at 1081 (nonconforming automobile graveyard existing on lots E-K could not be
expanded on to lots A-D); Berkey, 607 N.E.2d at 732 (nonconforming junkyard could not
be extended to other parts of the same lot beyond the area of land used as a junkyard at the
time of the enactment of the ordinance).
The term converted is not defined by the DDZO. Its ordinary meaning is to alter the physical . . . properties of[;] to change from one form or function to another[;] to alter for more effective utilization. Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 253 (10th ed. 1993). Physical changes in the two-bedroom apartments were described as: sunroom, living room becomes a bedroom, bedroom (front) becomes kitchen/bath . . . [and] the dining room becomes a living room. In short, although these apartments continue to function as dwelling units, their form has clearly been changed. In simple English, two apartments were converted into four.
violation of the DDZO, based on the plain and ordinary meaning of its language.See footnote
C. Constitutional issues
Ragucci contends that the third floor of the Hatherleigh must have some zoning use. Otherwise, enforcement of the [DDZO] . . . will have resulted in an unconstitutional taking of the third floor in violation of due process. Brief of Appellant at 37. We take this to be a shorthand assertion that the ordinance violates the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, applicable to the States by reason of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits the deprivation of property without due process of law[.] U.S. Const. amend. 14; see also Chicago, B. & Q.R. Co. v. Chicago, 166 U.S. 226, 239, 17 S. Ct. 581, 41 L. Ed. 979 (1897). Ragucci raises only a federal constitutional claim by using the due process language of the federal constitution and citing cases decided on federal constitutional grounds. Accordingly, we do not consider whether the Indiana Constitution raises any different considerations. Valentin v. State, 688 N.E.2d 412, 413 (Ind. 1997).
In Board of Zoning Appeals v. Leisz, ___ N.E.2d ___ (Ind. 1998), also decided today, we discussed the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments in the context of an ordinance that required the registration of nonconforming uses and provided for the forfeiture of those uses
not registered. The federal constitutional analysis set forth in Leisz is equally applicable to
the DDZO provision at issue in this case.
As elaborated in Leisz, the Supreme Court has identified two discrete categories of regulations -- physical invasions and complete denials of all economically beneficial use -- that violate the Takings Clause regardless of the legitimate state interest advanced. ___ N.E.2d at ___. Ragucci has not suffered a physical invasion of his property. And, because the Hatherleigh continues to be usable as a five-unit dwelling, there has been no denial of all economically beneficial or productive use of the land. Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 U.S. 1003, 1015, 112 S. Ct. 2886, 120 L. Ed. 2d 798 (1992). Accordingly, the DDZO as applied to the Hatherleigh falls into neither category of these per se takings.
1. Legitimate state interest
In addition to the two categories described above, the Fifth Amendment is violated when a land-use regulation does not substantially advance legitimate state interests[.] Id. at 1016 (quoting Agins v. City of Tiburon, 447 U.S. 255, 260, 100 S. Ct. 2138, 65 L. Ed. 2d 106 (1980). The purpose of the DDZO -- and indeed of most zoning ordinances -- is to secure convenience of access, lessen or avoid congestion in public ways, promote comfort and convenience, and secure the responsible development and growth of the county. See DDZO, preamble (1989). Density of permissible residential use is a well-established criterion and a legitimate subject of regulation. See, e.g., Agins v. City of Tiburon, 447 U.S. at 257 (density restrictions limited the development of a five-acre tract of land to a maximum of five single-family residences); Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas, 416 U.S. 1, 9, 94 S. Ct.
1536, 39 L. Ed. 2d 797 (1974) ([a] quiet place where yards are wide, people few, and motor
vehicles restricted are legitimate guidelines in a land-use project addressed to family needs).
The neighborhood in which the Hatherleigh is located was zoned for single- or two-family
use. The DDZO prohibits building a multi-unit apartment building in that area or expanding
a conforming single- or two-family building into a multi-unit apartment. The U.S. Supreme
Court has found a legitimate state interest in even stricter residential zoning restrictions. See,
e.g., Agins, 447 U.S. at 257; Euclid, 272 U.S. 365, 47 S. Ct. 114, 71 L. Ed. 303 (1926)
(vacant land allegedly being held for industrial development was zoned for residential use).
Just as Marion County has a legitimate interest in zoning its neighborhoods for certain types
of uses and prohibiting the creation of multi-family buildings in some parts of the county,
it also has a legitimate interest in prohibiting any expansion of existing nonconforming
buildings in those same areas. See, e.g., Berkey, 607 N.E.2d at 732 (the purpose of zoning
ordinances is to secure the gradual or eventual elimination of nonconforming uses and to
restrict, rather than increase, such uses). The DDZO substantially advances this interest by
prohibiting landowners from expanding a nonconforming use in one part of their building
into parts of the building that were previously not devoted to the nonconforming use or
subdividing existing nonconforming apartments into a greater number of nonconforming
2. Economic considerations
Because the DDZO substantially advances a legitimate state interest, Ragucci's challenge stands or falls based on a general takings analysis. Three factors are of particular
significance to this ad hoc inquiry: (1) [t]he economic impact of the regulation on the
claimant, (2) the extent to which the regulation has interfered with distinct investment-
backed expectations, and (3) the character of the governmental action. Penn Central
Transp. Co. v. City of New York, 438 U.S. 104, 124, 96 S. Ct. 2646, 57 L. Ed. 2d 631
(1978). [D]ecisions sustaining other land use regulations . . . reasonably related to the
promotion of the general welfare, uniformly reject the proposition that diminution in property
value, standing alone, can establish a 'taking.' Id. at 131 (citations omitted). The 'taking'
issue in these contexts is resolved by focusing on the uses the regulations permit. Id.
Disallowing the use of the Hatherleigh as an eight-unit apartment building may reduce the
monthly rental income Ragucci receives and may reduce the building's resale value.
Nevertheless, the property retains a significant part of its value as a five-unit apartment
building and all of its pre-1966 value. The record does not support a quantification of the
relative value of Ragucci's property as an eight or five unit structure. Surely, whatever the
difference, it pales in comparison to other cases in which the Supreme Court has nonetheless
found no taking. See, e.g., Euclid, 272 U.S. at 384 (75% diminution in value); Hadacheck
v. Sebastian, 239 U.S. 394, 36 S. Ct. 143, 60 L. Ed. 348 (1915) (87½% diminution in value).
The DDZO may or may not have interfered with Ragucci's investment-backed expectations. Ragucci purchased the property in 1986, when the eight-unit Hatherleigh was being operated in violation of the DDZO. At the time he purchased the property, he obtained a vendor's affidavit, but apparently not a warranty, to the effect that the property was not in violation of any zoning ordinance. Although the 1966 DDZO was a matter of public record,
what modifications, if any were made to the Hatherleigh between 1966 and 1986 may have
been difficult for Ragucci to discover. Whether he anticipated the possibility of zoning
difficulties is unknown from this record. We can only speculate whether the prospect that
the building might be required to be reconverted into a fewer unit structure was factored into
the price. However, any interference with his investment-backed expectations is mitigated,
at least to some extent, by the possibility of recovery from a prior owner.See footnote
investment-backed expectations of Ragucci's predecessors are frustrated no more than a
landowner who bought a piece of land expecting to develop it in a certain manner, only to
later find the municipality enact a zoning ordinance that seriously restricts those plans. See,
e.g., Agins,447 U.S. at 257; Euclid, 272 U.S. at 384; see also Lucas, 505 U.S. at 1027 (the
property owner necessarily expects the uses of his property to be restricted, from time to
time, by various measures newly enacted by the State in legitimate exercise of its police
Finally, the character of the governmental action weighs against finding an unconstitutional taking. As the Court noted in Penn Central, a taking is more readily found when the governmental action is characterized as a physical invasion, and less likely when the interference arises from some public program adjusting the benefits and burdens of
economic life to promote the common good. 438 U.S. at 124. The DDZO clearly falls into
the latter category. It does not single out the Hatherleigh, but rather applies to all
nonconforming (and conforming) uses in the same zoned area. Under the federal
constitution, the 1966 DDZO is not an unconstitutional taking as applied to the Hatherleigh.
the building to a five-unit dwelling.See footnote
Ragucci contends that requiring him to incur the cost
and inconvenience of remodeling is excessive and that limiting his use to no more than five
apartments is sufficient. The Commission counters that enjoining the occupancy of the
Hatherleigh to no more than five units is not sufficient because the sixth, seventh, and eighth
units are a violation of the DDZO and their removal is necessary to abate the continuing
According to the DDZO, no building, structure, premises or part thereof shall be used or occupied except in conformity with these regulations and for uses permitted by this ordinance. DDZO § 2.00(A)(1) (1966) (emphasis added). At least one Court of Appeals opinion suggests that requiring the restoration of the Hatherleigh to a five-unit dwelling would not be necessary to limit its use or occupancy to five units. See Metropolitan Dev. Comm'n v. Goodman, 588 N.E.2d 1281, 1287 (Ind. Ct. App. 1992) (limiting the use of a remodeled carriage house to two rental units when its expansion into three units was impermissible under the DDZO). It appears clear enough that the third floor space may not be occupied in compliance with the DDZO. There is nothing in the record indicating whether the relief requested by the Commission is necessary to prevent an ongoing violation. Nor is there anything to support Ragucci's contention that an order preventing the use of two of the other units would be sufficient to bring the building into compliance or even
precisely what such an order would mean.
Injunctive relief is plainly appropriate in this
case. See Kosciusko County Bd. of Zoning Appeals v. Wygant, 644 N.E.2d 112 (Ind. 1994).
However, we remand this case to the trial court to reconsider the proper scope of this relief,
specifically whether it is necessary to order that the Hatherleigh be remodeled into a five-unit
dwelling, rather than simply enjoining its use to five units.
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, SULLIVAN and SELBY, JJ., concur.
for Transfer at 2 ([s]ince the parties stipulated that the nonconforming dwelling was legally established as five units, the drastic remedy of extinguishment of the multi-family use was not possible). The Commission never sought to have the nonconforming use extinguished. Rather, the Commission sought to restrict the expansion of the nonconforming use of five apartments into eight apartments. See Goodman, 588 N.E.2d at 1287 (Ind. Ct. App. 1992) (the expansion of a nonconforming use does not necessitate the drastic remedy of extinguishment).
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