HARRY ASKEY, ET AL. v. MAURY COUNTY BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS, AN ADMINISTRATIVE BODY FORMED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE AND MAURY COUNTY, TENNESSEE (Tenn. Ct. App. March 31, 2009)
A local zoning board found that use of a pasture as a private airstrip violated the applicable zoning restrictions. In an appeal by the landowner, the trial court found the board erred since the permitted use “recreational facility” applied to a private airstrip. We affirm the trial court.
Opinion may be found at the TBA website:
“The A-2 zoning regulation by its terms allows the use. The A-2 zoning regulation allows use of the property for “recreational facilities” in Section 5.042(b)(9). It is not disputed that the Askeys use the airstrip for purely personal pursuits. The trial court noted that “recreational facilities” was not defined and looked to the definition of “recreational use” in Section 5.042 b. 9 which speaks in terms of a “facility” which is “intended for leisure time pursuits.” While this definition adds very little substantive meaning, it does not detract from, but adds to, the conclusion that the Askeys’ airstrip is a recreational facility. When the language of an ordinance is clear, the courts will enforce the ordinance as written. 421 Corporation v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, 36 S.W.3d 469, 475 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2000). Consequently, based on the plain meaning of the words used in the ordinance, the Askeys’ use is permitted.” Id.
“In addition to the rules of statutory construction applicable to ordinances, there are also rules of construction that apply to zoning ordinances in particular. Courts must construe zoning ordinances “with some deference toward a property owner’s right to the free use of his or her property.” Lion’s Head, 968 S.W.2d at 301. This Court will seek to interpret a zoning ordinance in a way that is “most consistent with the ordinance’s general purposes,” but any ambiguity will be resolved “in favor of the property owner’s right to the unrestricted use of his or her property.” Id.