Ely v. City Council Of The City Of Ames

787 N.W.2d 479 (2010)


P owns a commercial tire and automotive service center. The property next door to them was built by the Martins to provide room and board to African-American students attending Iowa State University when the students were denied housing elsewhere. The Martins were well known in the community for their efforts to make the Iowa State dormitories integrated and housing more available to African Americans in the Ames community. The house is an example of the Craftsman architectural style. Distinguished botanist and the first African American to graduate from Iowa State University, George Washington Carver, often visited the Martins' home when he returned to Ames. Over time the street became a major artery within Ames and was designated as a 'Highway-Oriented Commercial' zoning district. The home is currently residential rental property and is permitted as a nonconforming use because it was used as a household living space prior to enactment of the commercial zoning designation. The Martin Foundation submitted an application requesting that D designate the Martin house as a historic landmark. Ps filed a petition contending the designation of historical landmark would make it impossible to remove the house or change its residential use. They also argued that the designation would not ensure that the property would be properly maintained. The end result without a requirement to improve the property is that it would decrease the commercial value of nearby properties, including their lot. D approved the designation and rezoned the individual Martin property as a 'Historic Preservation Overlay District.' P then filed a petition for certiorari claiming the relevant city ordinances denied P due process and equal protection and D's actions were illegal spot zoning. D got the verdict and P appealed.