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City of University Park v. Benners – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

City of University Park v. Benners, 485 S.W.2d 773 (Tex. 1972) did not address the question of whether a civil court of equity could enjoin a criminal ordinance. It considered a commercial business owner's takings challenge to a zoning ordinance that reclassified its neighborhood from commercial to residential. Benners, 485 S.W.2d at 775--76.

The ordinance contained a provision allowing existing businesses to continue their business for 25 years to allow recoupment of their investment. Id. at 775.

The supreme court rejected the plaintiff's argument that she "held a vested right to use the lots for commercial purposes which could not be constitutionally abridged by a subsequently enacted zoning ordinance, regardless of the reasonableness of the exercise of the police power and of the period allowed for recoupment of the investment in the commercial improvement." Id. at 776.

The court reasoned that there is "no difference in kind between terminating a land use which predates a zoning change, with allowance for recoupment, and restricting future land uses not presently utilized." Id. at 779.

It explained that the "former requires no more than that the property owner be placed in the equivalent position of the later, i.e., that he be afforded an opportunity to recover his investment in the structures theretofor placed on the property." Id.