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City of Brighton can order demolition of houses that were uninhabitable for decades

The court held that the trial court did not clearly err in finding that the houses had been uninhabitable for decades, and the trial court properly concluded that the defendants-Bonners' "apparent lack of interest in preventing them from decaying manifested an intent to abandon the residential use thereof." Thus, it affirmed the trial court's order that, inter alia, ordered certain houses owned by the Bonners to be demolished. They argued, among other things, that the trial court erred in finding that they had lost their prior nonconforming residential use through abandonment. The court found that one of the trial court's factual findings was clearly erroneous, but the trial court "nevertheless reached the inescapably correct conclusion." There was no dispute that "the Bonners had a prior nonconforming use of the property as residential, in conflict with the present commercial zoning of the area." The court held that they were correct in asserting that they could not be "deemed to have abandoned the residential use of their property merely because they have not actually resided in the houses for some period of time." However, it also held the plaintiff-City was equally correct in pointing out that "the Bonners' nonuse of their houses for residential purposes remains relevant, even if it is not dispositive," and context was also relevant. The only mistake the court noted was that the City and the trial court "concluded that the Bonners used their houses for 'storage' because they kept furniture in the houses." However, the condition of the houses was highly relevant and strongly manifested an intent to abandon residential use of the properties. They were "literally falling apart and the evidence overwhelmingly showed that they were uninhabitable." The Bonners' only rebuttal argument was that the City had turned off their water and refused to turn it back on. This argument was "simply preposterous," and the Bonners presented "absolutely no support for the extraordinary contention that a lack of running water somehow precludes a homeowner from engaging in repairs or maintenance." As the court noted in 1979, "the houses were already in violation of ordinances before" the City cut off their water. Although the City denied building permits after it declared the houses to be nuisances, there was "no evidence that the Bonners made any serious effort between 1979 and 2009 to restore the houses to habitable conditions. If the only reason why the houses were uninhabitable was the lack of water service, the Bonners could plausibly argue" that the City did not carry its burden of showing an intent to abandon residential use. However, the evidence unambiguously showed that "they were uninhabitable for many other reasons," none of which the Bonners appeared to have shown any interest in correcting for over 30 years.

Antenuptial agreement held to be valid and enforceable

The court held that the parties' antenuptial agreement was valid and enforceable, concluding that to invalidate it on the basis of one party's fault would contravene the agreement's clear and unambiguous language, and that as a matter of law, the...

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