The Livingston Enterprise …

Posted January 23, 2019 at 9:36 am

An ongoing push to add new billboards in Livingston may officially have come to an end.

The Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville affirmed the ruling from an Overton County Chancery Court hearing after Roland Digital Media, Inc. (Roland) filed a request for the appellate court’s decision.

“Roland filed two different cases against Livingston and both of them have resolved in Livingston’s favor,” said Daniel H. Rader IV, attorney representing the City of Livingston.

After Roland Digital Media, Inc. entered into a leasehold agreement with landowner Ruth Hill that would grant Roland permission to construct and maintain a large digital sign on Hill’s property in the city limits, the application was denied, as it was not allowable under Livingston’s sign ordinance.

The lease agreement between Hill and Roland Digital Media, Inc. reportedly said, “The lease will begin on the day that all governmental permits have been obtained and sign is completed.”

The application was denied because of a zoning ordinance, which specified that signs in that local commercial district could be a maximum size of nine square feet, and Roland’s proposed sign was 264 square feet.

Roland then requested a variance from the Livingston Board of Zoning Appeals, which was also denied. Roland then sought to appeal the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA)’s denial of a variance for the sign, a variance of 255 square feet from the existing sign ordinance, and filed a petition for seeking review in the Overton County Chancery Court on July 21, 2017.

Roland reportedly directed the suit to the wrong defendant; rather listing “The City of Livingston, Curtis Hayes, Mayor, Respondent,” and the case was dismissed, as Chancellor Ronald Thurman ruled that the petition failed to name the BZA on the petition, reported as the “only proper defendant in this suit.”

Roland then filed with the Court of Appeals of Tennessee, seeking a review of the chancery court’s decision, which in part, was determined that a petitioner “shall name the defendants the particular board or commission” pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated 27-9-104.

Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr. P.J., M.S. delivered the opinion of the Court of Appeals of Tennessee, which was filed January 7.

Judge Clement wrote that when the city’s motion to dismiss was heard on December 4, 2017, Roland reportedly argued that BZA was referenced throughout the petition, and “therefore (BZA) had notice” and that Roland had further asserted that the remedy should not be dismissed but rather to allow time to “fix the caption,” however, Roland reportedly never made a motion to amend the petition during this hearing or prior.

Roland reportedly did not file a motion to amend the petition to the BZA as a defendant until December 5, 2017, which was reportedly more than 60 days after the BZA made its decision but before the final order was entered, exceeding the time allowance pursuant to T.C.A. 27-9-102.

“Notability, Roland did not submit a proposed amended petition with the motion,” wrote Clement.

At the end of the hearing on December 4, 2017, Chancellor Thurman reportedly offered Roland 10 additional days to find a case that directly addressed the jurisdictional nature of failing to name proper parties in a petition for writ of certiorari. In the opinion of the Court of Appeals, Clement wrote, …but Roland candidly admitted to the court that no such case existed.”

Judge Clement’s analysis states, “We find no merit to Roland’s argument that the chancellor erred by failing to grant it leave to amend the petition,” and further, “Roland filed its motion on December 5, 2017, which was more than 60 days after the BZA’s final administrative judgment against Roland. As a consequence, the issue was moot before Roland filed its motion to amend.”

The judgment of the trial court was affirmed with costs of appeal assessed against Roland Digital Media, Inc.

“It’s always a pleasure to represent the City of Livingston and its government officials who take their responsibility seriously,” said Radar.