SW Legal studies in Business

Incorrect Information from County Employees Creates No Liability for County
Description

South Carolina high court held that the fact that multiple county officials provided a property owner incorrect information about the zoning classification of property was not negligent misrepresentation. The owner of the property must exercise due diligence to learn the real classification of the property.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Zoning; Negligent Misrepresentation; Inverse Condemnation

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Quail Hill wanted to buy 72.5 acres of land for a mobile-home development. The company hired a real estate agent to assist in the process. The agent met with the Richland County Subdivision Coordinator. He told the agent the parcel was zoned RU, which qualifies for mobile-home development. The Tax Assessorís office also listed the property as RU. Quail Hill bought the land and prepared it for development. The County Planning Commission approved development of a 20-lot subdivision and the County Development Services Department supported the plan. Quail Hill began marketing the property and sold five lots. Two manufactured homes were installed. Neighbors objected, and the County Zoning Administrator, consulting the Official Zoning Map, found the property was zoned RS-1, a classification that prohibits mobile homes. The County ordered Quail Hill to cease development. Quail Hill sued the County for negligent misrepresentation and inverse condemnation. The court held for the County. Quail Hill appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. The County has the right to enforce the proper zoning classification. Quail Hill could not justifiably rely on the Countyís erroneous zoning representation as required for a claim of negligent misrepresentation. In case of the provision of incorrect information by government employees, there is no cause of action. The law will be enforced as it is; that is the RS-1 zoning classification is correct. Quail Hill has a duty to exercise due diligence, not rely on the words of County employees who were incorrect about the proper zoning classification. The official zoning map should have been consulted by Quail Hill.

Citation Quail Hill, LLC v. County of Richland, 692 S.E.2d 499 (Sup. Ct., S.C., 2010)

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