Posted by: Patricia Salkin | August 4, 2020

WY Supreme Court Upholds Decision that Amended CUP Substantially Complied with County’s Variance

This post was authored by Matthew Loescher, Esq.

The Hardeman family sold 137 acres in Teton County to the Jackson Hole Land Trust (“JHLT”), which divided the property into several parcels. JHLT then sold some of the parcels to finance its purchase and preservation of a certain part of that property via a conservation easement. Six structures, (collectively referred to as the Hardeman Barns) were located on a 26.45-acre parcel leased by Teton Raptor Center, in 2008, and developed a in accordance with a multi-phase plan for operations and use of the property. The Teton County Board of County Commissioners approved an application by the Raptor Center for an amended conditional use permit (“CUP”) to expand the use of its property. Nearby landowners and other parties sought judicial review. The district court affirmed and the petitioners appealed.

At the outset, the court noted that the 2018 CUP and the 2008 CUP both authorized the use of the property as a bird rehabilitation and education center. The 2018 CUP amended the 2008 CUP to establish fourteen conditions by which the Raptor Center was required to abide by in its allowable use of the property in view of proposed site improvements. The Board found that the proposed changes substantially complied with the previously approved 2008 variances. In reaching this decision, the Board relied upon the Planning Commission reports finding that an amendment to the CUP was the appropriate method to address the Raptor Center’s proposed expansion. The court found that the Board’s reliance on those reports, and its decision to approve the amendment to the CUP, were reasonable and did not violate the Teton County’s Land Development Regulations.

The “Limitations and Conditions” language stated that the 2008 variances “are associated with the remodel of the machine shed and use of the Hardeman Barn property, as approved in the 2008 Development Plan and CUP.” Thus, the plain language of the provision limits the variance to the use of the property. The court found that the variances’ reference to the 2008 CUP and the development plan does not tie them to the 2008 CUP, but to the use allowed by the CUP. As such, amending the conditions attached to the use under the LDRs allowing amendments to CUPs did not create nonconformance with the variance. Additionally, the institutional use of the property remained the operation of the Raptor Center. Accordingly, the court held Board could reasonably conclude that the amended CUP substantially complied with the requirements of the 2008 variance, and the 2008 variance therefore continued to apply to the Raptor Center’s institutional use of the property. Thus, the Board’s decision was not arbitrary and capricious and did not violate the law.

HB Family Limited Partnership v Teton County Board of County Commissioners, 2020 WL 4333464 (WY 7/28/2020)


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