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3883 Conn., L.L.C. v. District of Columbia

ELR Citation: 32 ELR 20534
Nos. No. CIV.A.00-2453(JR), 191 F. Supp. 2d 90/(D.D.C., 02/28/2002)

The court holds that although it has jurisdiction to hear an individual's claim for damages against a city for disrupting his construction project, the individual's due process rights were not violated. The individual was granted the necessary permits to begin preparing the site for the construction of a 168-unit apartment building. After a citizen group filed suit to enjoin construction, the city issued a stop work order (SWO). An appeal of the SWO was denied on the grounds that the preliminary permits may have been issued based on inaccurate site information on the environmental impact screening form (EISF) filed by the individual. After submitting a revised EISF and filing suit in the district court, the SWO was rescinded. The court first holds that it has jurisdiction to hear the case. The city argued that the court lacked jurisdiction under the Burford abstention doctrine. However, resolution of the individual's claim that the suspension of its permits deprived him of procedural due process will not require the court to intrude unduly into sensitive areas of local policy or regulation. The court then holds, however, that the individual's due process rights were not violated. The permits issued to the individual were not building permits and did not confer property rights. None of the permits issued was a prerequisite to construction that stood apart from the need for a building permit. Rather, they were some of the many steps toward issuance of a building permit. Further, the language in the code under which the permits were issued is discretionary and makes very clear that the issuance of a partial permit comes with no promises. The court next holds that the individual's substantive due process and Equal Protection claims also fail.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (14 pp., ELR Order No. L-466).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Roger J. Marzulla
Marzulla & Marzulla
1350 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 822-6760

Counsel for Defendants
Andrew J. Saindon, Ass't Counsel
Office of Corporation Counsel
441 4th St. NW, 6th Fl., Washington DC 20001
(202) 727-3400