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Stan Hawkins v. Bonneville County Board of

June 28, 2011


Appeal from the district court of the Seventh Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Bonneville County. Hon. Jon J. Shindurling, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: W. Jones, J.

2011 Opinion No. 73

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

The decision of the district court is affirmed. Costs are awarded to Respondent.


Stan Hawkins appeals a decision by the Bonneville County Board of Commissioners to grant his neighbors, Dale and Marla Meyer, variances allowing them to replace aging homes on two of their parcels of land. Because Hawkins does not show that awarding the variances prejudiced any of his substantial rights, this Court affirms the district court's dismissal of the petition for judicial review.


Dale and Marla Meyer own two rural parcels zoned agriculture-1 ("A-1") near Bone Road in Bonneville County, Idaho. The two lots each contain a home, one built around 1912 and the other built in 1936. Both homes have been uninhabitable for roughly ten years. The Meyers bought one of the properties in 1972 and the other in 2001. A single-lane road, known to the parties as the "spur road," connects the Meyers' properties to Bone Road by running over grazing land owned by Stan Hawkins, Appellant. People living in the homes on the Meyers' land regularly used the spur road for decades to access their properties. It appears that no court has adjudicated what easement rights, if any, exist over this road in favor of the Meyers' parcels. There is also conflicting evidence as to whether the road is actually an unimproved county road and not a private drive at all.

Bonneville County enacted its zoning ordinance in 1959, after the homes on the Meyers' land were built and occupied. Bonneville Cnty., Idaho, Zoning & Building Ordinance (1959) [hereinafter BCZBO]. The zoning ordinance requires dwelling lots in an A-1 zone to have at least one-hundred feet of frontage along a county-approved road. BCZBO § 1-707 (2007). At the time the County enacted the ordinance, neither property apparently had any public-road frontage. Despite the fact that their prior nonconforming right not to comply with the frontage ordinance may have been "grandfathered in," Dale and Marla Meyer filed for variances to build a new house, one on each of their two parcels, in January of 2007. They believed variances were necessary because their properties did not comply with the frontage ordinance.

After a hearing at which Hawkins testified against the Meyers' application, the Bonneville County Planning and Zoning Commission held that variances were unnecessary because the homes were a permitted prior nonconforming use, but granted one anyway. The Board of Commissioners (the "Board") held a de novo hearing and affirmed the decision to issue the variances, reasoning that the Meyers' properties were "grandfathered in" so that the frontage ordinance did not apply. Hawkins next petitioned for judicial review. In dismissing Hawkins' Petition and his subsequent Motion for Reconsideration, the court held that Hawkins did not have standing to file a petition for judicial review and that he had not shown that the County had prejudiced any of his substantial rights.

Hawkins appealed to this Court, where he now contends that showing prejudice to a substantial right is not a prerequisite for standing, but rather is a substantive element of a petition for review. Hawkins claims that the County violated his substantial rights because new homes on the Meyers' land would be inaccessible to emergency vehicles and because new residents might generate more traffic on the spur road, increasing the odds that someone might inadvertently allow his cattle to escape through an open gate. The Board responds that, since the Meyers already use their parcels as dwelling sites and since Hawkins' land is already subject to an easement favoring the Meyers' parcels, the variances do not prejudice Hawkins' substantial rights. Neither party seeks attorney fees on appeal.


1. Whether Hawkins had standing to file a petition for judicial review.

2. Whether the Board violated Hawkins' substantial rights by granting variances to the Meyers that allows them to ...

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