Deborah A. Luper v. City of Wasilla, 215 P.3d 342 (September 11,2009)

Luper had a kennel with 18 dogs on property she owns in the City of Wasilla. City ordinances prohibited keeping more than three dogs without a permit. When the city sued to enforce its ordinance, she applied for a use permit for an eighteen-dog kennel. The city denied her permit application and she appealed. After consolidating her permit appeal with the city’s enforcement action, the Superior Court denied her appeal and granted the city summary judgment in its enforcement action.

In considering the denial of the permit, the Court applied the reasonable basis standard of review, deferring to the agency’s interpretation unless it is plainly erroneous and inconsistent with the regulation. It found the denial reasonable since substantial evidence supported the commission’s factual findings that (1) there were twenty-four written comments from neighbors opposing the application and only one supporting it, (2) there were potential ground water contamination and drainage issues, and (3) there were potential noise and odor issues.

Her constitutional argument that the three dog limit infringed on her property rights in both her land and her dogs was also rejected. For zoning ordinance infringement on property rights, the Court applies the minimum level of scrutiny, under which the provision must bear a fair and substantial relationship to a legitimate government purpose.

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