Normally, appeals may only taken from final orders or decisions — i.e. those orders or decisions that resolve all of the issues in a case. Appellate courts don’t usually hear appeals from non-final orders, because a non-final order could be changed in a way that makes the appeal unnecessary, and if that were to occur, then the appellate court would have engaged in a waste of time.
Of course, the rule that appellate courts only consider appeals from final orders has exceptions, and with respect to local government decisions approving o subdivision plats, the legislature has created a system in which a party who objects to a subdivision may appeal from a local government’s preliminary approval of the plat, as well as the final approval.
That, at least, was the Court of Appeals’ holding last week in Zuni Indian Tribe v. McKinley County Board of County Commissioners. The Court’s opinion, written by Judge Linda Vanzi, holds that the New Mexico Subdivision Act permits an opponent of a subdivision to appeal from a local government’s preliminary approval of a subdivision plat, or from its final approval of the plat. The opinion does not explain the policy behind allowing appeals from both preliminary and final approvals, but it does cite a Maryland case which seems to indicate that the rule is the same in that state.
I have never had occasion to think about this issue before, and therefore am not familiar with the rationale for allowing appeals from both preliminary and final subdivision approvals. If you know, then please do leave a comment, which would be much appreciated.