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Vogt v. City of Carter Lake

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 6, 2019

FRED VOGT, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CITY OF CARTER LAKE and CARTER LAKE CITY COUNCIL, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Greg W. Steensland, Judge.

         Fred Vogt appeals the dismissal of his petition for declaratory judgment concerning a zoning regulation amendment. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

          James L. Pray and Thomas D. Story of Brown, Winick, Graves, Gross, Baskerville & Schoenebaum, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Robert M. Livingston and Kristopher K. Madsen of Stuart Tinley Law Firm LLP, Council Bluffs, for appellees.

          Considered by Bower, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.

          BOWER, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Fred Vogt appeals from a district court order granting the City of Carter Lake (City) and Carter Lake City Council's (City Council) motion to dismiss. Vogt sought a declaratory judgment to enjoin amending the zoning regulations to allow gaming facilities in C-2 General Commercial Districts. To the extent the zoning district applied to property outside of tribal trust property, we find the court had jurisdiction over the action, and we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         On or before April 2000, the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska ("Tribe"), a federally-recognized Indian Nation, acquired a parcel of their aboriginal land in Carter Lake, Iowa. In 2007, the land was transferred to the United States to hold in trust for the benefit of the Tribe. The Tribe and the City approved a cooperative relationship agreement to address governmental issues and services. In 2009, the parties amended the agreement; the Tribe agreed to seek changes in zoning regulations for commercial retail establishments and the City agreed it would not unreasonably withhold approval.[1] The Tribe announced plans to build and operate a gaming facility on its land.

         On June 4, 2018, following a public hearing, the City Council approved a zoning amendment adding "gaming facilities" to the list of permitted uses in C-2 General Commercial Districts.[2] This amendment would allow the Tribe to construct and operate a casino on trust land in Carter Lake.[3] It is unclear from the record, but the petition implies the C-2 General Commercial District includes land outside the borders of the Tribe's trust property. Vogt asserts the City's Comprehensive Plan at the time of the amendment prohibited massive redevelopment, did not contemplate or authorize gaming facilities, and contained goals "antithetical to a large casino."

         On September 24, Vogt filed suit against the City and City Council seeking a declaratory judgment claiming the zoning amendment violated the City's Comprehensive Plan, as well as a writ of mandamus compelling the City to enforce its Cooperative Agreement with the Tribe and limit use of the trust property to a tobacco shop. Vogt also filed a motion for temporary injunction seeking to prevent the City and City Council from authorizing or permitting construction or operation of a gaming facility within Carter Lake, regardless of the zoning status.

         On October 23, the City filed a motion to dismiss and opposition to the temporary injunction. The City stated Vogt's claims were preempted by federal law and, consequently, the court lacked jurisdiction. It also asserted a writ of certiorari was the exclusive means to challenge the zoning decision, which was time-barred. On November 19, Vogt voluntarily dismissed his request for a writ of mandamus in light of an amendment to the Cooperative Agreement predating his petition, which approved a casino facility.

         The district court found Vogt's claims sought to interfere with the Tribe's ability to conduct gaming on sovereign land and, therefore, were preempted by federal law and regulation. The court granted the City and City Council's motion to dismiss. Vogt appeals.

         II. ...


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