Justia Wyoming Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Laramie County Planning Commission denying Asphalt Specialities Co., Inc.'s (ASCI) site plan application for a hard rock quarry operation in Laramie County, holding that the Commission's decision was unlawful and must be set aside under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 16-3-114(c)(ii).At issue on appeal was whether the Commission's decision to deny ASCI's application was in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority or limits or lacking statutory right. The Supreme Court concluded that it was, holding that the Commission exceeded its statutory authority when it utilized its comprehensive land use plan and the site plan review process to deny ASCI use of its land for a limited gravel mining operation. View "Asphalt Specialties Co., Inc. v. Laramie County Planning Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Teton County Board of County Commissioners approving an application by the Teton Raptor Center for an amended conditional use permit (CUP) to expand the use of its property, holding that the Board's decision was not arbitrary and capricious and did not violate the law.In 2008, after obtaining variances to address nonconformities on structures on its property the Raptor Center obtained a CUP allowing the Raptor Center to operate its bird care and education facility. In 2017, the Raptor Center decided to expand its use of the site and applied to amend its 2008 CUP. The Board approved the application. Petitioners - nearby landowners and other parties - appealed, and the district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioners had standing to appeal the Board's decision; and (2) the Board reasonably concluded that the amended CUP complied with all relevant standards and resolutions and that the amended CUP substantially complied with the requirements of the 2008 variance. View "HB Family Limited Partnership v. Teton County Board of County Commissioners" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff in this declaratory judgment action against the Board of County Commissioners of Teton County challenging the Teton County Land Development Regulation prohibiting fractional ownership of campgrounds, holding that the regulation was unenforceable because it exceeded the County’s zoning authority. Specifically, the Court agreed with Plaintiff that the regulation prohibiting fractional ownership did not regulate the use of the land, only its ownership, and was, therefore, beyond the County’s zoning authority and unenforceable. View "Board of County Commissioners of Teton County, Wyoming v. Mackay Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Teton County Board of County Commissioners granting Four Shadows, LLC a basic use permit (BUP) to use its property in Teton Village for temporary construction storage/staging. The court held (1) Appellants had an interest that was greater than the general public’s, giving them standing to maintain their appeal as persons aggrieved and adversely affected in fact by the Board’s decision to issue the permit; and (2) the Board’s decision to grant Four Shadows a BUP for temporary use of the property for construction storage/staging was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law. View "Tayback v. Teton County Board of County Commissioners" on Justia Law

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Clare Sikora filed a declaratory judgment action against the City of Rawlins challenging the City’s issuance of a building permit to her next-door neighbors, Jared and Kasandra Ramsey. The district court ruled in favor of the City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly found that Sikora failed to exhaust her administrative remedies; and (2) the district court did not err in finding that the the municipal ordinance governing restoration of a nonconforming building allows for demolition of the nonconforming building and reconstruction of the building within the same footprint - the type of construction undertaken by the Ramseys. View "Sikora v. City of Rawlins" on Justia Law

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Several individuals (collectively, “the Wimers”) filed a complaint against their neighbors (collectively, “the Cooks”) seeking an injunction prohibiting the Cooks from carrying out their plan of placing multiple single-family housing structures on a twenty-acre parcel of land, alleging that the Cooks’ plan for the property violated the neighborhood’s covenants. The Cooks counterclaimed and filed a third-party complaint against all of the landowners in the area seeking a declaration that the covenants had been abandoned due to various covenant violations. The district court determined that the covenants had not been abandoned and that the Cooks’ plan to develop the land did not violate the covenants. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the district court (1) properly concluded that the covenants were not abandoned; and (2) erred in concluding that the Cooks’ plan did not violate the covenants, as the covenants prohibit multiple single-family dwellings on a parcel. View "Wimer v. Cook" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Ted Price, as Trustee of the Price Family Trust, filed an application for the establishment of a private road asserting that his property had no outlet to or connection with a public road. The Crook County Board of Commissioners denied the application on the ground that Price already had access to his property from at least two existing public roads. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board’s decision denying Price’s private road application was supported by substantial evidence, the actions of the Board were not arbitrary or capricious, and the record did not establish the level of inconvenience required to establish necessity; and (2) the district court did not err in denying Price’s request that the final result be set aside due to malfunctioning audio equipment. View "Price v. Hutchinson" on Justia Law

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Roger Seherr-Thoss (RST) owned and operated a gravel operation since at least 1977. In 1978, Teton County enacted its first Land and Development Regulations (LDRs). In 2011, Teton County issued RST an amended "notice to abate" requiring RST to reduce his production levels to pre-1978 levels because the business had expanded in volume and footprint since the LDRs were adopted. After a contested case hearing, the Teton County Board of County Commissioners entered an order recognizing that all aspects of RST’s gravel crushing and extraction operations were grandfathered but requiring RST to reduce its operation to its 1978 extent. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board’s order was an improper agency determination and exercise of authority. View "Seherr-Thoss v. Teton County Bd. of County Comm’rs" on Justia Law

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Robert and Beverly Bernard sought a special exemption to operate a bed and breakfast in an area that was zoned as an R-1 Residence District. The Board of Adjustments approved the Bernards’ application, but the district court reversed because the agency failed to comply with its own rules and procedures. The Bernards subsequently filed a second application for a special exemption that differed from the first in that it included an approved parking plan and a certificate of occupancy. Timothy and Carole Tarver objected, claiming that the Bernards’ second application was barred by res judicata. The Board concluded that the second application was not barred by res judicata and granted the Bernards’ application with conditions. The Tarvers appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Bernards’ second application for a special exemption was not barred by res judicata or collateral estoppel; (2) the Board had the authority to impose parking restrictions on the bed and breakfast as a condition of granting the special exemption; and (3) the Board properly applied its discretion in concluding that the Bernards were entitled to a special exemption. View "Tarver v. Bd. of Adjustments" on Justia Law

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Landowners' neighbors filed with the Board of County Commissioners a petition for establishment of a county road along an unsurveyed legal description that closely equated to Landowners' driveway. The Board dismissed the petition, determining that Landowners' driveway already was part of a previously established county road. The district court remanded to the Board to conduct a survey of the county road to determine whether Landowners' driveway was indeed part of the county road. Upon remand, rather than obtaining a survey of the driveway or county road as ordered, the Board declared that the driveway was part of the county road. The district court again remanded. Some time later, the county attorney informed Landowners that the Board did not intend to change its position that Landowners' driveway was part of the existing county road. Landowners sued the Board for inverse condemnation, trespass, and ejectment. The district court granted summary judgment to the Board, concluding that the inverse condemnation claims were barred by limitations and that the trespass and ejectment claims failed as a matter of law. The Supreme Court reversed the district court as to the inverse condemnation claims, holding that Landowners' claims were filed within the applicable statute of limitations. Remanded. View "Smith v. Bd. of County Comm'rs" on Justia Law