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Chevy Chase Village v. Jaggers Case Brief

Summary of Chevy Chase Village v. Jaggers, Ct of App Maryland [1971]

Defenses to Enforcement of Covenants

Relevant Facts: In 1927 Chevy recorded a plat subdividing a part of what later became a suburban community.  That subdivision, Section 1-A, was composed of 13 blocks, numbered 4-16.  Blocks 6 and 11, contained 60 lots, were reserved for commercial use.  2 lots in or near were reserved for utilities.  The other blocks were reserved for residential purposes.  Dr. Jagger purchased a lot in 1947 and lived there until 1967.   He maintained his medical office in the garage he had converted. 1967 he moved and rented the premises out to a physician for residential purposes only, but Dr Jagger continued to maintain the office. Chevy notified Dr. that this would be in violation of the covenants binding on the property.

Legal Issue(s): Whether use of a few of the more than 200 lots in subdivision for nonresidential uses constituted an abandonment or failure of the original plan or render unenforceable covenants restricting lots to residential purposes?

Court’s Holding: No

Procedure: Tr Ct denied injunctive relief and PLs appealed; Ct of App Reversed and remanded.

Law or Rule(s): Restrictive covenants are unenforceable where there has been a deterioration in the residential character of the neighborhood or a failure from the beginning of the restrictive development, so that the restrictions no longer served their intended purposes.

Court Rationale: The covenants are clearly binding on the successive owners by express provision they run with the land. The deed expressly states that they are binding upon the grantee, his heirs and assigns, and enforceable by the grantor, its successors and assigns.”

Minimal deviations from the original plan are not sufficient to show a change in the neighborhood that is either complete or radical causing the restrictions to out-live their usefulness.  The setting aside of Blocks 6 and 11 for commercial purposes was exactly what was contemplated in the original plan and was in fact agreed to by nearly all of the lot purchasers.

Any waiver that may have existed was limited to the use of the office incidental to his living on the property.  Once he moved, such use ceased to be incidental and appellees could assert their rights to enforce the restrictions.  K restrictions are neither abrogated nor enlarged by zoning restrictions.  Appellees silence would only apply to the use while the Dr lived on the premises.

The neighbor’s interests in preserving the residential integrity is not outweighed by the Dr’s desire to move to another residential community.

There was not change in the neighborhood capable of invalidating the restrictive covenants, Df are enjoined from using their property for the practice of medicine UNLESS they reside there.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The express covenants bind all successive owners and runs with the land.

Defendant’s Argument:   There has been an abandonment and failure of the original plan of development and a substantial change in the general characteristics of the neighborhood so as to render the covenants unenforceable.



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