Bloom Parham successfully obtained a court order directing the City of Fairburn to issue revised development plans to the firm’s builder client. The builder began development of a residential subdivision in 2020 under an approved development plan. The builder later submitted a revised set of plans to correct a design issue and bring the plans into compliance with federal law while leaving the rest of the features of the plan unchanged. Rather than approve the revised plans, the city demanded that the builder revise other aspects of the plans to bring them into compliance with requirements of the city’s development code that had changed since the plans originally were approved. Complying with the city’s demand to change the plans would have cost the builder 18 lots out of the development and significantly damaged the value of the project.
The court determined that the builder had vested rights in the development plans previously approved by the city. The court ordered the city to approve the revised plans submitted by the builder and held that the city is not allowed to force the builder to change the plans to comply with more stringent development requirements implemented after the city approved the builder’s plans. The court concluded that making one change in the plans to bring them into compliance with federal law did not vitiate the builder’s vested rights in the remainder of the approved plans.