CHRISTINE B. MAY, Plaintiff-Counter Defendant-Appellant,
MORGAN COUNTY, GEORGIA, Defendant-Counter Claimant-Appellee.
from the United States District Court for the Middle District
of Georgia D.C. Docket No. 3:15-cv-00052-CAR
ED CARNES, Chief Judge, HULL, and MARCUS, Circuit Judges.
May filed this lawsuit against Morgan County, Georgia,
seeking relief from a 2010 zoning ordinance that prohibited
short term rentals of single family dwellings. The district
court dismissed some of May's claims, concluding that
they were barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. It
granted summary judgment on her remaining claim, concluding
that it was barred by issue preclusion. The district court
likewise denied May's motion for partial summary
judgment, which contended that her right to use her vacation
home for short term rentals was a constitutionally protected
"grandfathered" use. This is May's appeal.
PROPERTY AND UNDERLYING ZONING DISPUTE
saga began when May purchased a parcel of lakefront property
in Morgan County intending to build a vacation home. She
planned to use the house for short term vacation rentals in
order to allay the cost of its construction. May started
renting it out in 2008.
time, the County's zoning ordinances applicable to
May's property allowed only those uses that the
ordinances listed as "permitted" or
"conditional." Short term rentals of single family
dwellings were not listed as either a "permitted"
or a "conditional" use.
2010, the Morgan County Board of Commissioners adopted
Regulation 15.35, which explicitly bans rentals of single
family dwellings for less than thirty consecutive days in the
zoning district for May's property. Because May
continued to rent her property on a short term basis, in
August 2011 she was given a criminal citation for violating
FIRST CIVIL CASE
April 2012 May filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against the County in Georgia state court. She contended that
she had a "grandfathered" right under the
County's zoning ordinances to continue offering short
term rentals on the property, and she sought an injunction
and declaratory judgment on that basis. She also argued that
application of Regulation 15.35 to her property was
unconstitutional under the due process and equal protection
clauses of the United States and Georgia constitutions, and
the privileges and immunities clause of the Fourteenth
state trial court found that May's use of her property
was grandfathered, but the Georgia Court of Appeals vacated
that judgment and remanded the case for a ruling on two
threshold arguments raised by the County: first, whether
May's action was barred for failing to exhaust her
administrative remedies by not seeking a rezoning and
conditional use permit from the County before filing suit,
and second, whether Georgia Code § 5-3-20(a) barred
May's claims because she failed to challenge the adoption
of Regulation 15.35 (facially or as applied to her property)
within 30 days of its passage.
state trial court concluded that May's action was barred
for both reasons and dismissed all of May's claims
against the County. May appealed to the Georgia Court of
Appeals, which denied her application for a discretionary
appeal, and ...