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Boone v. Reynolds

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District

April 3, 2018

COUNTY OF BOONE, Respondent,
v.
SETH REYNOLDS, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Boone County, Missouri The Honorable Jodie Asel, Judge.

          Before Special Division: Zel M. Fischer, Special Judge, Presiding, and Alok Ahuja and Karen King Mitchell, Judges.

          OPINION

          Karen King Mitchell, Judge.

         Seth Reynolds appeals, following a bench trial, a permanent injunction issued in favor of Boone County and against Reynolds, requiring him to remove a detached garage, privacy fence, and satellite dish he had erected in the public right-of-way adjacent to a public road in Boone County, Missouri. Reynolds raises three points on appeal, all of which are focused on what he claims is a dearth of evidence demonstrating that any of the structures resulted in harm to County. Finding no error, we affirm.

         Background[1]

         Sometime before June 21, 2013, without first obtaining a building permit, Reynolds began construction on a detached garage, measuring approximately forty-by-forty feet, near his home on Creasy Springs Road in Boone County, Missouri. The garage sat approximately eighteen-to-twenty feet off the edge of the paved road. After he had installed the footings and piers for the garage, his builders expressed concern about the location of a nearby power line and its potential interference with continued construction. Consequently, Reynolds contacted Boone Electric to see about having the power line relocated. When a representative from Boone Electric showed up, he advised Reynolds that, in order to obtain a permit to relocate the power line, Reynolds first needed a building permit for the garage. Accordingly, Reynolds contacted County and requested and received a building permit on June 21, 2013.

         Four days after Reynolds received a building permit, Uriah Mach, a land-use planner for County, sent Reynolds an email, advising Reynolds that the garage was located too close to Creasy Springs Road[2] and that Reynolds would need to apply to the Board of Adjustment for a variance before proceeding any further.[3] Mach did not hear back from Reynolds but followed up the email with two letters, dated July 9, 2013, and July 24, 2013.[4] In both letters, Mach advised Reynolds that County was taking issue with the location of his garage and that Reynolds needed to take some action to address it. Reynolds did not immediately respond to County's notifications, instead he proceeded with the completion of the garage.

         Sometime in 2015, Reynolds finally applied for a variance for the setback violations with the Board of Adjustment. The Board unanimously declined Reynolds's request. Thereafter, County demanded that Reynolds take action to bring his property into compliance with both the right-of-way and the zoning regulations, but Reynolds refused. Thereafter, County filed a petition for permanent injunction against Reynolds, alleging that Reynolds's property "denied [County] the access to th[e] right-of-way . . ., together with the land-use authority statutorily granted to [County] to establish, promulgate, and enforce zoning regulations, thereby causing [County] irreparable harm, " and that Reynolds's actions were "perpetual, and so [County] has no adequate remedy at law." County sought a permanent injunction, "mandating that [Reynolds] comply with Boone County, Missouri zoning regulations, and that he remove the accessory building, the fence, and the satellite dish from . . . the right of way area, . . . the setback area, . . . [and] the area in front of the main building."

         At trial, the court received testimony from Mach and a surveyor describing the location of the right-of-way boundaries, the setback boundary, and the various items of Reynolds's property. The court also received testimony from Reynolds indicating that he had not been aware of his need to obtain a permit before constructing the garage, that other nearby properties appeared to be in violation of the same right-of-way and setback requirement, and that it cost Reynolds $30, 000-35, 000 to construct the garage.[5] After hearing the evidence, the trial court found that

[Reynolds] has unlawfully constructed and maintains on his property an unlawful accessory building abutting North Creasy Springs Road, together with a fence and a satellite television receiver dish between that building and North Creasy Springs Road, all in violation of plaintiff Boone County's Ordinances and which all unlawfully encroach on the 25-foot setback area established by the Boone County Zoning Regulations and upon the Plaintiff's right of way abutting North Creasy Springs Road in front of that property.

         The trial court entered a permanent injunction, requiring Reynolds to

remove in its entirety that building, that fence, and that satellite receiver dish from the Boone County setback area and Boone County's North Creasy Springs Road Right of Way within 60 days of the date of th[e] Judgment and . . . permanently restrained and enjoined [Reynolds] from building or maintaining any structures in that setback area or in that right of way in the future.

         Reynolds appeals.

         Standard of Review

         "An action seeking injunction is an action in equity." City of Greenwood v. Martin Marietta Materials, Inc., 311 S.W.3d 258, 263 (Mo. App. W.D. 2010). "The standard of review in a court-tried equity action is the same as for any court-tried case; the trial court's judgment will be sustained unless there is no substantial evidence to support it, it is against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously declares or applies the law." Id. (citing Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976)). "To the extent that a trial court's grant of injunctive relief involves weighing the evidence presented, determining the credibility of witnesses, and formulating an injunction of the appropriate scope, this court reviews for abuse of discretion." Id. "The trial court abuses its discretion when the judgment is clearly against the logic of the circumstances then ...


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