COA Rejects Standing To Challenge Strip Club Permit

Today in Mangum v. Raleigh Board of Adjustment the NC Court of Appeals (COA) held that a group of petitioners lacked standing to challenge a decision by the Raleigh Board of Adjustment (Board) to grant a special use permit to a "[Gentleman's]/Topless Adult Upscale Establishment."

The Board had held a hearing at which a group of nearby property owners (NPOs), including the owner of the famous Angus Barn restaurant, testified that the proposed adult establishment would have adverse secondary effects on their properties. But the Board decided to grant the special use permit. The NPOs then petitioned for certiorari, contending they were "aggrieved parties" entitled to challenge the Board's decision. See G.S. 150A-388(b) (aggrieved parties may petition for cert to contest a Board of Adjustment decision). The trial court held that they had standing and reversed the Board's decision approving the special use permit.

The COA, however, held that the NPOs were not "aggrieved parties"; thus, they had no standing to challenge to Board's decision. Under a line of COA cases, an NPO isn't an aggrieved party unless it can show some special damage distinct from the rest of the community, particularly damage effecting a reduction in the NPO's property value. Even though the NPOs in this case alleged that the proposed adult club would have adverse effects on their properties, including inadequate parking, safety and security, trash, and noise, the COA held that the NPOs failed to allege and show special damages distinct from the rest of the community. They didn't allege or submit evidence showing that the value of their properties would decrease as a result of the proposed use.

Accordingly, the COA held that the NPOs had no standing, meaning the court had no jurisdiction. Thus, the COA vacated the trial court's order and reinstated the special use permit issued by the Board. The adult club apparently will go forward.