Court of Appeals Affirms Injunction Issued for Violation of Zoning Ordinance

The Court of Appeals affirmed an injunction against an individual as the defendant and property owner for violating conditions of zoning.

Keep reading for GZB’s summary of Spinner v. City of Dallas, Georgia, Court of Appeals, Civil Action File No. A08A0741, decided June 25, 2008. 

The Dallas City Council conditionally rezoned Edwin Spinner’s property to heavy industrial to allow the operation of a small metal processing facility.  The rezoning limited the metal processing to reductions, forbade smelting, required that all operations be conducted inside the building during certain business hours, required a security fence, and mandated that any outside storage be removed within 14 days.

After the rezoning, Spinner began operatin a large volume scrap metal processing business on the property and neighbors complained.  Through a property inspection, the City determined that the operations and storage of scrap metal on the property violated the conditions of the zoning ordinance.  The City sued Spinner for violating the zoning ordinance and sought an injunction to close down his business. 

Following a bench trial, the trial court ruled in favor of the City and granted the injunction.  Spinner appealed to the Court of Appeals arguing that the action was an in rem proceeding and that the trial court therefore lacked jurisdiction to issue the injunction. 

An injunction cannot “run with the land” in an in rem proceeding.  An injunction is distinctly an equitable remedy, and a court of equity acts in personam, not in rem.  However, an action may be against the person, or against property, or both.  Here, the lawsuit was filed against both Spinner individually and his property.  The City’s complaint named Spinner as the defendant and a property owner in the action and Spinner was personally served with the complaint.  As such, Spinner was subject to the trial court’s in personam jurisdiction and the injuctive relief issued against him was authorized.  As such, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court as the lower court did have jurisdiction to issue an injunction for violation of the conditional zoning against Spinner individually and as property owner.

Spinner v. City of Dallas, Georgia, Court of Appeals of Georgia, Civil Action File No. A08A0741, decided on June 25, 2008.

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