Munns v. Martin

Munns v. Martin, 131 Wn.2d 192, 199, 930 P.2d 318 (1997) involved the application of a City of Walla Walla demolition ordinance that provided for a waiting period where demolition was sought for "any structure over 50 years old, or 'places of historic value.'" Munns, 131 Wn.2d at 202 (quoting WALLA WALLA MUNICIPAL CODE 20.146.040). The actual delay ordered in Munns upon application by the Roman Catholic Church to demolish a parochial school was 70 days, but we found that "the potential of an additional 12 months of delay under the Walla Walla ordinance is an administrative burden." Munns, 131 Wn.2d at 207. To illustrate the breadth of this rule, we cited the fact that "[t]he mere nomination of a building for historic status was sufficient in First United Methodist to constitute an administrative burden." Munns, 131 Wn.2d at 207. The Court noted that Justice Dolliver in his First United Methodist Church dissent had decried "the theoretical nature of the administrative burden" of the Seattle ordinance challenged there. Munns, 131 Wn.2d at 207. In Munns, the Court adjudged the public hearing requirement, per se, an unacceptable administrative burden: The ordinance provides for a public hearing. Must the Bishop attend such a hearing? To what purpose if the Bishop declines to alter the Church's future plans? But more significantly here, the additional delay is specifically for the purpose of permitting opponents of the proposed demolition to attempt to broker various alternatives to the church's planned religious purpose for the structure. . . . If the Bishop is unwilling to entertain alternatives, or if none meets his requirements, and he is unwilling to delay his plans, he must then seek approval of the secular authorities to lift the stay and allow him to proceed with his plans to carry out his religious mission. The challenged ordinance creates precisely the kind of administrative burdens First United Methodist forbids. Munns, 131 Wn.2d at 208.