Carson v. Brown
Carson purchased property in Forsyth County in a zoning district which allowed for property to be developed into residential lots with a minimum lot size of 9000 square feet. A few months later the county put in place a 30-day moratorium on land-development permits for property in that zone with a lot size of less than 14,750 square feet. Shortly thereafter, Carson submitted a permit application to the county seeking to develop the property at the 9000 square foot level. The county initially acccepted the application but it was sent back a day later for corrections and when it was returned it was stopped because of the moratorium.
Carson filed a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking an order declaring the moratorium void and ultra vires. He also sought to have the county officers process the land-disturbance permit application. The county officers filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings and this appeal ensued. The court held that Carson was allowed to directly appeal as the county department's action was not a decision. The court also held that Carson was not required to apply for interlocutory appeal and that his challenge to the moratorium could not be brought by way of mandamus. The court also held that suits for declaratory relief against public officials in their official capacities were barred by sovereign immunity. However, the court reversed the trial court's dismissal of Carson's petition for mandamus against the county officers in their individual capacties. The court also held that Carson's mandamus action was not barred for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.