Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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The circuit court affirmed the Trempealeau County Environment & Land Use Committee’s denial of a conditional use permit application for non-metallic mineral mining submitted by AllEnergy Corporation and allEnergy Silica, Arcadia, LLC (collectively, AllEnergy). The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Committee applied the factors and considerations set forth in the applicable ordinance and thus kept within its jurisdiction in denying AllEnergy’s application for a conditional use permit; (2) there is substantial evidence to support the Committee’s decision to deny AllEnergy a conditional use permit; and (3) this court does not adopt the new legal doctrine urged by AllEnergy that a conditional use permit applicant is entitled to the permit under certain conditions. View "AllEnergy Corp. v. Trempealeau County Environment & Land Use Committee" on Justia Law

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American Transmission Company and ATC Management, Inc. (collectively, ATC) filed a declaratory judgment action seeking an order from the court declaring that it had a right, under a 1969 easement, to enter the property of Ricardo and Julie Garza and trim and remove trees threatening or endangering the operation of a transmission line. The circuit court granted summary judgment for ATC, concluding (1) under the 1969 easement, ATC was allowed to remove the trees, and they did not trespass on the Garzas’ property in doing so; and (2) the 1969 easement was not invalidated when wood poles were replaced with steel poles. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that ATC had no rights to enter the Garzas’ property because the transmission line upon which the 1969 easement was founded no longer existed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the 1969 easement is still in effect, thereby allowing ATC to enter the Garzas’ property; and (2) the 1969 easement grants to ATC the right to make the change from wood poles to steel poles. View "American Transmission Co. v. Garza" on Justia Law

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McKee Family I, LLC (McKee) objected to the City of Fitchburg’s rezoning of two lots from a planned development district (PDD) zoning classification to a residential-medium (R-M) zoning classification. McKee sought declaratory judgment, damages, and injunctive relief on the grounds that the rezoning of the lots was unlawful. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the City. Acknowledging that it did not submit an application for a building permit, McKee appealed, arguing that it had a vested right in developing land under the PDD zoning classification. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that McKee did not have a vested right in the PDD zoning classification when the City rezoned the lots. The court declined to address McKee’s constitutional taking argument, reasoning that it was an undeveloped argument. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) McKee did not have a vested right in developing the property under the PDD zoning classification because it did not apply for a building permit and because a PDD zoning classification does not create contractual expectations upon which developers may rely; and (2) because McKee conditioned its takings claim on its claim for vested rights, the Court need not reach McKee’s constitutional takings claim. View "McKee Family I, LLC v. City of Fitchburg" on Justia Law

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This case was one of several cases involving litigation between Lands’ End and the City of Dodgeville challenging the City’s property tax assessment of Lands’ End’s headquarters. In 2009, Lands’ End made an offer of settlement, which the City rejected. Eventually, the court of appeals remanded the matter to the circuit court with directions to enter judgment in favor of Lands’ End in the amount of $724,292 plus statutory interest. At issue on remand was whether Lands’ End was entitled to interest at the statutory rate of interest in effect when the offer of settlement was made under Wis. Stat. 807.01(4) or at the statutory rate of interest in effect when Lands’ End recovered the judgment under the amended version of the statute. The circuit court awarded interest at “1 percent plus the prime rate,” the rate in the amended version of the statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Lands’ End did not have a vested right in the twelve percent interest rate in effect in section 807.01(4) at the time Lands’ End made its offer of settlement; and (2) awarding interest under the amended version of the statute did not violate the Due Process or Equal Protection clauses of the federal and state constitutions. View "Lands' End, Inc. v. City of Dodgeville" on Justia Law

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In 1997, James Vandenberg and three other individuals (collectively, the intervenors) acquired real estate as tenants-in-common. During the time they owned the property, James accumulated personal debts resulting in encumbrances being filed against the property. In 2011, James and the intervenors contracted to sell their property to Van De Hey Real Estate, LLC on land contract. Prince Corporation subsequently filed a garnishment summons and complaint seeking to garnish Van De Hey’s final payment as partial satisfaction of its judgment against James. The intervenors intervened in the action. The circuit court entitled Prince to garnish 1/4 of the full contract price. The intervenors then impleaded the Department of Revenue (DOR) as an interested party and moved for partition. The circuit court entered an order holding that the Department of Revenue (DOR), rather than Prince, was entitled to garnish 1/4 of the land contract proceeds due to the DOR’s superior tax warrants. The court also denied the interveners’ request to partition the real estate. The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the DOR was entitled to garnish from the final land contract payment the amount that James could require be paid to him from that payment; and (2) the circuit court did not err in refusing to partition the property. Remanded. View "Prince Corp. v. Vandenberg" on Justia Law

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Abbey Springs Condominium Association, Inc. and Abbey Springs, Inc. (collectively, Abbey Springs) have a policy forbidding both current and subsequent unit owners from utilizing recreational facilities until unpaid condominium assessments are paid in full. Following a foreclosure action and sheriff’s sale of the property to Walworth State Bank, the Bank paid the former owner’s outstanding assessment under protest. The Bank filed suit against Abbey Springs, asserting that the policy violates Wisconsin law by impermissibly reviving a lien on the condominium units that was eliminated by the foreclosure action. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the condominium policy effectively revived the lien against the property that the foreclosure judgment entered against Abbey Springs and the former unit owners had extinguished, and therefore, the policy violates well-established foreclosure law and the foreclosure judgment entered in the underlying foreclosure action. Remanded. View "Walworth State Bank v. Abbey Springs Condo. Ass’n" on Justia Law

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The Department of Transportation (DOT) eliminated Hoffer Properties, LLC’s direct driveway connections to a controlled-access highway and separately exercised its power of eminent domain to acquire .72 acres of Hoffer’s land to extend Frohling Lane westward so as to connect Hoffer’s property to the highway. Hoffer appealed the amount of compensation, arguing that compensation for the .72 acre must include the diminution of value of the property due to the loss of direct access to the highway. The circuit court granted partial summary judgment to DOT, concluding that Hoffer’s direct access to the highway was a noncompensable exercise of the police power and that reasonable access had been given as a matter of law. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that summary judgment was proper because DOT provided alternate access to Hoffer’s property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Hoffer was precluded from compensation under Wis. Stat. 32.09(6)(b) because alternate access to the property was provided by the Frohling Lane extension. View "Hoffer Props., LLC v. State" on Justia Law

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Ash Park, LLC entered into a one-party listing contract with Re/Max Select, LLC providing that Ash Park shall pay a broker’s commission to Re/Max if Ash Park enters into an “enforceable contract” for the sale of a parcel of vacant land. Ash Park entered into a contract for the sale of the land with Alexander & Bishop, LLC, but Alexander & Bishop later breached the purchase contract, and the sale of the land was never consummated. The circuit court declared that Ash Park owed no broker’s commission to Re/Max and ordered Re/Max’s broker lien discharged from the property. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the purchase contract between Ash Park and Alexander & Bishop constituted an “enforceable contract” within the meaning of the listing contract between Ash Park and Re/Max, and therefore, Re/Max was entitled to a broker’s commission even though Alexander & Bishop breached the purchase contract and the sale was never consummated. View "Ash Park, LLC v. Alexander & Bishop, Ltd." on Justia Law

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MS Real Estate Holdings, LLC contracted with the Foxes for a right of first refusal to purchase or lease the Fox land. Years later, the Foxes sued, arguing that their revocation of the right of first refusal contract was valid. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the Foxes, concluding that the right of first refusal contract was indefinite as to duration and that the revocation by the Foxes was reasonable. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a right of first refusal contract is definite as to duration when it specifies an event that triggers the right and requires the right holder to either exercise or waive the right within a specific period of time thereafter, even if the triggering event is not certain to occur; and (2) the right of first refusal contract at issue in this case was not terminable at will because, by the terms of the contract, the right of first refusal continued until there was a sale of the property, either to MS Real Estate, or to a third party in the event that MS Real Estate declined to exercise its right of first refusal to purchase, thereby waiving its right. View "MS Real Estate Holdings, LLC v. Donald P. Fox Family Trust" on Justia Law

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After Shirley Carson defaulted on loan payments, Bank sought a judgment of foreclosure and sale of the mortgaged premises. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of Bank of New York Mellon (“the Bank”). More than sixteen months after the judgment of foreclosure was entered, the Bank had not sold the property. Carson filed a motion to amend the judgment to include a finding that the property was abandoned and an order that the Bank bring the property to sale within five weeks from the date of entry of the amended judgment. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that it lacked the authority to order the Bank to sell the property at a specific time under Wis. Stat. 846.102. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the court may use its contempt authority to order a sale under these circumstances. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) when the circuit court determines that a property is abandoned, section 846.102 authorizes the court to order a mortgagee to bring the property to sale after the redemption period; and (2) because the circuit court in this case did not reach the issue of whether the property had been abandoned, the case must be remanded. View "Bank of New York v. Carson" on Justia Law