Posted by: Patricia Salkin | January 4, 2010

Court Upholds Ordinance Authorizing Only One Extension for Required Subdivision Plat Approval

Dry Creek Partners, LLC contracted with the owners of property that was to become the Red Hawk Estates subdivision.  Prior to the agreement with Dry Creek, twenty acres of the owners’ property along with an air, light, and view easement were conveyed to Rockwood Distinctive Homes, LLC.  In 2002, Dry Creek’s planned unit development for Red Hawk Estates was approved by the Ada County Board of Commissioners.  Dry Creek was required to obtain final plat approval for Phase II of the subdivision on or before July 27, 2006, in order to pursue its development, however, after encountering difficulties, a request for a time extension was filed with Ada County Development Services (ACDS).  The request was granted, giving Dry Creek until July 27, 2007 to obtain the approval, however, Dry Creek had not completed the final plat to be approved so it filed a second request for a time extension.  According to Dry Creek, the holdup was caused by the holders of the air, light and view easement who had convinced the Ada County Highway District to withhold its approval of the final plat.  The second request was denied by the ACDS who held that a second request was not permissible under Ada County Code section 8-7-6-B-2 which provides that “the applicant or owner for an approved final plat may apply for one (and only 1) time extension for each phase of the final plat.  The time extension shall be for a period not to exceed one year.”  The district court agreed with ACDS’s determination that the ordinance only authorized one time extension per applicant. 

On appeal, the Supreme Court of Idaho rejected Dry Creek’s argument and held that the ordinance authorizing only one time extension per applicant is not arbitrary, capricious, nor an abuse of discretion.  Dry Creek contended that, by allowing only one time extension per applicant, the provision arbitrarily and capriciously provides affected persons with a tool “to defeat a subdivision plat rather than filing a timely appeal after approval of the preliminary plat.”  The court sided with ACDS, noting that it is completely reasonable for the board to desire to prevent prolonged development projects.  Limitations such as the one at issue serve several zoning purposes including “preventing visual blight, maintaining neighborhood property values, and preserving the character of the community.  Although precluding additional extensions may burden some applicants, the court was not willing to question the legislative judgment without it being unreasonable.  The court noted that absent an extension, applicants still have two years to obtain approval of the final plat.  Since the code provision relied on by the Board was not arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion, the district court did not err in affirming the Board’s decision to deny a second time extension. 

Dry Creek Partners, LLC v. Ada County Commissioners, 2009 WL 3152809 (Idaho 10/2/2009)

This opinion can be accessed at:


  1. Patty – many thanks for including an Idaho case on your blog! – Brad Hawkins-Clark

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