Pulte Home Corp. v. Montgomery County, Md. (P)

In this land-use case, the appellants ask the court to revive their dismissed federal and state constitutional claims and wade into the waters of local government decisions and zoning regulations. But federal courts are not the appropriate forum to challenge local land use determinations, so here the landowner has failed to state viable constitutional claims against local entities based on zoning actions.

The plaintiff could have challenged the local authorities’ actions through the applicable state administrative appeals process or crafted its state court complaint in a way that would have avoided the entirely predictable result here. Instead, like many landowners and developers before it, the plaintiff attempts to use a bevy of federal constitutional claims to displace state law and local decision-making.

Local zoning authorities must have the ability to respond to constantly changing environmental, economic, and social conditions, and the court is unwilling to tie their hands by finding a constitutional property interest under the circumstances presented here, or require them to treat every property in a vulnerable watershed identically, or force them to pay compensation to every disappointed developer whose land has been downzoned. To hold otherwise would be to invade the province of state law and render local officials unable to make the important decisions they were elected to make.


Pulte Home Corp. v. Montgomery County, Md. (P), No. 17-2112, Nov. 29, 2018. 4th Cir. (Jones) from DMD at Greenbelt (Hazel).

Categories: 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Opinions, Published

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