Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 22, 2009

County’s Decision on Whether to Amend Comprehensive Plan Not Reviewable by Court

Following a request by Burns Holding for an amendment to the County Comprehensive Plan and a rezoning of its property to allow for a concrete batch plant on its 49-acre site, the Board of Commissioners denied the application for a comprehensive plan amendment and took no action on the rezoning request.  The comprehensive plan requested amendment was to allow for commercial and light industrial activity in the area, and the rezoning request sought a change the designation from “Transitional Agriculture Two” to “Commercial” and “Light Industrial.” Although the County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that the Board approve the applications, the Board subsequently denied the requested Plan amendment while at the same meeting approving a request for a Plan Amendment from another applicant who wished to operate a gravel pit.  Burns alleged that the Board’s denial of its request was result-oriented, and that the Board erroneously relied on lay opinion rather than certain expert testimony offered by Burns, and that therefore the Board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.

The Supreme Court of Idaho held that because there is no statute authorizing judicial review of the legislative decision whether or not to amend a comprehensive plan, the Court’s may not review the Board’s actions. The Court noted that a county board of commissioners is not an “agency” under the Idaho Administrative Procedures Act (IAPA), and that therefore its actions are not reviewable absent a statute invoking judicial review provisions of the IAPA. The Court said that a request to amend zoning is not an “application for a permit” which would have provided for judicial review, noting that “An application for a zoning change, like a request for an amendment to a comprehensive plan, is not an application for a ‘permit’ and thus no review is authorized…” Lastly, the Court commented that although this legislative decision is not subject to judicial review, it could be subject to scrutiny by means of collateral actions such as declaratory actions.

Burns Holding, LLC v. Madison County Board of County Commissioners, 2009 WL 195498 (Idaho 7/9/2009).

The opinion can be accessed at:


  1. I thought this issue was already resolved by the Idaho Supreme Court way back in 1984 in Bone v. City of Lewiston, 107 Idaho 844.

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