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COA Rules Developer Does Not Have Common Law Vested Rights and Voids Building Permit

May 17, 2011

In an opinion filed today, the NC Court of Appeals held that a developer had not made substantial expenditures in reliance on a validly issued permit and, therefore, could not have acquired a common law vested right to have a site plan approved under a previous ordinance. Wilson v. City of Mebane Board of Adjustment, COA10-971. Consequently, the COA ruled that the building permit granted to the developer to construct a Walgreens was void ab initio, meaning it’s as if the permit never existed.

I’ll refrain from providing too much commentary because I represent the Petitioner and litigation is still pending.  The Court’s analysis of communications between developers and the City’s planning department does serve as an important reminder that property owners must be careful not to make assumptions about what constitutes a valid approval of their project.

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