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The County of Twin Falls, Idaho v. Eric Hettinga

May 5, 2011

THE COUNTY OF TWIN FALLS, IDAHO, POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THE STATE OF IDAHO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
ERIC HETTINGA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Twin Falls County. Hon. G. Richard Bevan, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lansing, Judge

2011 Opinion No.26

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

Judgment enjoining use of property in violation of zoning ordinance, affirmed.

In proceedings below, the district court determined that Eric Hettinga's use of his mother's property to park semi-trucks, trailers, and loaders violates applicable zoning laws. Hettinga appeals from that court's judgment enjoining him from continuing that use or conducting any trucking or hauling business on the property.

I. BACKGROUND

Hettinga resides on property that is owned by his mother. The property is located in Twin Falls County just outside the Filer city limits but is in the Filer area of impact for planning and zoning. The property is zoned residential-agricultural (R-A).*fn1

Hettinga's next door neighbors complained to the city of Filer and Twin Falls County about Hettinga's use of the property. The neighbors complained that Hettinga would let the semi-trucks idle before driving them away, creating noise, vibrations, and diesel smoke that was extremely disturbing to the residential use and enjoyment of their property. Filer's attorney wrote a demand letter to Hettinga in August of 2007. When Hettinga took no action, the attorney filed a complaint on January 8, 2008, on behalf of the city of Filer and Twin Falls County. The complaint was later amended to name the county as the only plaintiff.

After a court trial, the court determined that Hettinga's parking and maintaining commercial trucks and trailers on the property violates the R-A zoning ordinance. The court therefore enjoined Hettinga from conducting trucking or hauling operations of any kind on the ordinance establishing that either the city or the county zoning plan and ordinances govern the area, or adopt any other mutually agreed upon zoning plan and ordinances. I.C. § 67-6526(a)(1)- (3). The Twin Falls County code designates an area of city impact for Filer, which includes the unincorporated area of Twin Falls County that borders Filer. TWIN FALLS COUNTY CODE § 8-9- 19(C)(1). The code also states that the area of impact is to be governed by Filer zoning ordinances. Id. at 8-9-19(C)(2). Thus, the relevant zoning ordinance applicable to the property at issue in this case, and the one to which we will hereinafter refer, is the Filer zoning ordinance. property, including parking, storing, driving, or maintaining any and all equipment, trucks, and trailers used in any trucking business. Hettinga now appeals the district court's decision.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Did the District Court Err in Holding that Hettinga's Use of the Property was in Violation of the Controlling Planning and Zoning Laws?

The applicable zoning ordinance states:

PURPOSE: The R-A residential agricultural zone is intended to provide areas for low density residential development and continuation of farm uses where compatible with each other. It is appropriate to be applied to areas which have, by nature of uses and land division activity, already begun a conversion from rural to urban use primarily in the outer portions of the rural-urban fringe areas where public facilities and services will be necessary before intensive urbanization should occur and in rural land with marginal suitability for agricultural production.

FILER, IDAHO, CODE tit. A, ch. 5, § 9-5-1. The permitted uses in the residential-agricultural (R-A) zone are as follows: "Cemeteries; Churches and religious facilities; Home occupations,suburban, rural or external; Noncommercial public parks and recreation grounds and buildings; One- and two-family dwellings; The growing of soil crops, including all farming, livestock, and poultry raising activities; [and] Water reservoirs and facilities." Id. at § 9-5-2(A). The ordinance states that "uses not specified above are prohibited unless administrative ...


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