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George Martin and Martin Custom v. Camas County

February 17, 2011

GEORGE MARTIN AND MARTIN CUSTOM HOMES, LLC, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
CAMAS COUNTY, IDAHO, BY AND THROUGH THE DULY ELECTED BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITY, KEN BACKSTROM, BILL DAVIS, AND RON CHAPMAN, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Camas County. Hon. John K. Butler, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Burdick, Justice

Boise, January 2011 Term

2011 Opinion No. 22

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

District court grant of summary judgment, affirmed.

This case comes before this Court from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Camas County, on the basis that George Martin and Martin Custom Homes, LLC (collectively "Martin"), lacked standing to bring a declaratory judgment action against Camas County to challenge the validity of various planning and zoning ordinances and regulations. Martin argues that the district court committed prejudicial error in failing to take judicial notice of orders entered in a related case (CV-2007-24) challenging substantially identical amended zoning ordinances, wherein the district court found that Martin had standing. Martin also argues that the district court erred in finding that Martin lacked standing where Martin owned, or held interests in, properties that were either rezoned or adjacent to properties which were rezoned, cumulatively having a negative fiscal impact on Martin. We affirm, holding that Martin has failed to show a distinct palpable injury.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. CV-2007-24 (currently awaiting hearing before this Court as Case No. 36055-2009)

In late 2005 the Camas County Board of Commissioners ("the Board") instructed the Camas County Planning and Zoning Commission ("the Commission") to amend the Camas County Zoning Ordinance and rezone certain areas of the county. The Commission submitted an Amended Comprehensive Plan (Resolution 96) with an amended Land Use Map (Resolution 103) and an Amended Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance 153) with an amended Zoning Map (Ordinance 150) (collectively, the "2007 zoning amendments") to the Board, which subsequently adopted them. On May 4, 2007, Martin filed a declaratory judgment action against Camas County, seeking a permanent injunction of the 2007 zoning amendments.

On December 28, 2007, the district court granted preliminary injunctive relief to Martin. The district court found, inter alia, that: (1) the Idaho Administrative Procedures Act (IDAPA) applied to Camas County's zoning decisions; (2) the action of the County--in enacting the 2007 zoning amendments--constituted a quasi-judicial, rather than quasi-legislative, activity and was not immune from judicial review; and (3) the County failed to maintain a transcribable verbatim record, as required by I.C. § 67-6536. On March 10, 2008, the district court amended the previously entered injunction to also prohibit the County from proceeding under the zoning ordinances that had preceded Ordinance 153. On April 2, 2008, the court entered a separate order of preliminary injunction on the basis that conflicts of interest existed at both the planning and zoning and county commissioner levels, in violation of I.C. § 67-6506.

On May 12, 2008, the Board adopted a new Amended Comprehensive Plan (Resolution 114) and Land Use Map (Resolution 115) as well as a new Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance 157) and a Zoning Designation Map (Ordinance 158) (collectively the "2008 zoning amendments"). On August 8, 2008, Martin requested to amend his complaint to include claims for damages under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act and an additional declaratory relief action for the 2008 zoning amendments. On October 8, 2008, the district court granted Martin's request to amend his complaint to include Section 1983 claims, but denied the motion as to the 2008 zoning amendments.

On November 5, 2008, Camas County removed CV-2007-24 to the United States District Court for the District of Idaho ("USDCDI"), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(b), 1446(b), divesting the district court of jurisdiction. On December 3, 2008, the district court entered its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order Following Trial granting Martin's requested relief as to the 2007 zoning amendments. On May 17, 2009, the USDCDI remanded CV-2007- 24 back to the district court. On May 27, 2009, the district court recognized that it had been divested of jurisdiction prior to entering its order on December 3, 2008, and was not re-vested until the USDCDI issued an order of remand. The district court accordingly reissued its December 3 order on May 27, 2009.

B. CV-2008-40 (the present matter, before this Court as Case No. 36605-2009)

On October 15, 2008, Martin filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment, seeking both preliminary and permanent injunctions of the 2008 zoning amendments. The district court denied the preliminary injunction on November 10, 2008, finding that Martin had not shown that he had suffered or would suffer irreparable injury in the event that the court did not enter the injunction. Camas County filed a motion for summary judgment on February 12, 2009, which the district court granted on May 6, 2009, finding that Martin lacked standing to bring a complaint for declaratory judgment. Martin filed his notice of appeal with this Court on June 15, 2009.

The parties stipulated before the district court that Martin owned the following property in Camas County:

(1) A forty acre parcel that was zoned as Agricultural ("A")--allowing one residential unit per eighty acres--both before and after the 2007 and 2008 zoning amendments.*fn1

(2) A twenty-nine acre parcel that was zoned A prior to the 2007 and 2008 zoning amendments, and zoned Residential ("R1")--allowing one residential unit per acre-- after.

(3) A one acre parcel consisting of three lots in an existing, approved and platted subdivision, which was zoned as Agricultural Transitional ("AT")--allowing one residential unit per acre--prior to the 2007 and 2008 zoning amendments and zoned R1, allowing the same residential density, after.

However, since the time of that stipulation Martin has sold the one acre parcel located in the platted subdivision. At oral argument before this Court counsel for Martin notified this Court for the first time that Martin no longer owns the twenty-nine acre parcel. Best practice is to notify this Court in writing, in a timely fashion, when changes that may affect justiciability occur in the factual circumstances of a case. As it stands now, Martin owns only the forty acre parcel in fee simple which was zoned A both before and after ...


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