Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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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

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C&J, LLC owned 2.04 acres of property. The northern portion was zoned for commercial use, and the southern portion was zoned for a single-family residence. C&J filed an application requesting approval to develop the single-family residential zone. The Teton County Board of Commissioners approved C&J's final development plan application allowing C&J to construct five residential units and one affordable housing unit in the single-family residential zone. It also allowed commercial parking and other commercial uses. Appellant Wilson Advisory Committee, a non-profit corporation representing citizens concerned about the development of Wilson, petitioned for judicial review. The district court affirmed the Board's decision. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and remanded to require the Board to make findings called for by its own regulations as to whether or not the proposed location and density improved scenic views and lessened adverse environmental impacts. View "Wilson Advisory Comm. v. Bd. of County Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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Roundup Heights, a subdivision in Laramie County, was located within one mile of the City of Cheyenne. The owners of certain lots applied for County approval of a partial vacation of the subdivision plat. The County granted the partial vacation without City approval despite the City's contention that the partial vacation required joint approval by both the City and the County. The City filed suit, seeking declaratory judgment that joint City and County approval was required for partial vacation if the affected land was within one mile of the City. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the County. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the relevant statutes unambiguously do not require joint City and County approval of partial vacations if the affected property is wholly within the County. View "City of Cheyenne v. Laramie County Bd. of Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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After Swan Ranch was annexed by the City of Cheyenne in 2009, Appellants, neighbors to the land being annexed, filed a declaratory judgment action against the City alleging that the annexation was invalid under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 15-1-402(a). Ultimately, the district court granted the City's responding summary judgment argument on two claims and conducted trial on the third and final claim. Following trial, the district court found the annexation was proper. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court's decision upholding the Swan Ranch annexation was not clearly erroneous, as "the degree of contact, the location, and the character of the annexed parcel" were sufficient to satisfy the statutory requirements for annexation under section 15-1-402. View "Hough v. City of Cheyenne" on Justia Law

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This case concerned a petition for the establishment of a private road filed by Merlin and Lori Zowada. In the first appeal, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the district court for further remand to the county board of county commissioners (the Commission) to make adequate findings of fact on specific issues. While the case was pending before the Court, the legislature amended Wyo. Stat. Ann. 24-9-101, which governs the procedure used when petitioning for the establishment of a private road. On remand, the Commission and its hearing officer chose to apply the statute as amended in 2008 and 2009, although the case had originally proceeded under the statute as it existed in 2005. Mullinax filed a petition for writ of review, arguing that the 2005 version of the statute should apply to the proceedings. The district court denied the petition. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the hearing officer's decision to apply the statute as it existed in 2009 was in error, as, while the amendments to the statute were procedural in nature, the general rule against retroactive application of the amendment applied. Remanded. View "Mullinax Concrete Serv. v. Zowada" on Justia Law