Burton v. Glynn CountyAnnotate this Case
The issue central to consolidated appeals and cross-appeals was the question of whether property owners were violating a zoning ordinance by operating their property as an event venue. In 2010, East Beach residents began raising complaints to the community homeowners' association and local law enforcement regarding noise, traffic, and parking issues arising from events held at "Villa de Suenos." From that time, Glynn County police investigated more than 20 noise complaints related to the property, many resulting in the issuance of citations or warnings. The property was situated within a single-family residential zoning district classified as “R-6” under the Glynn County Zoning Ordinance. the trial court issued an order on December 20, 2013, adopting the County’s interpretation of its zoning ordinance and directing the owners, Thomas and Lee Burton, to comply with the ordinance, so interpreted, in their future use of the property. The court also denied the Burtons’ equal protection claim, finding that they had presented no evidence of other residential properties in Glynn County that were operated in the same manner as the Burtons’ property but were treated differently by the County. The Burtons appealed, challenging the trial court’s interpretation of the zoning ordinance and its rejection of their equal protection claim; the County cross-appealed, seeking to clarify the nature of the relief the trial court had granted. Subsequently, with the appeal and cross-appeal pending, the County filed a motion for contempt in the trial court, alleging that the Burtons were continuing to promote Villa de Suenos as an event venue and accept bookings for this purpose, in violation of the trial court’s order. Upon review of the arguments made on appeal, the Supreme Court concluded that the trial court properly found that the owners were violating the ordinance, and that the court properly issued a declaratory judgment to that effect.