FLYING " A" RANCH, INC., an Idaho corporation, CLEN ATCHLEY, EMMA ATCHLEY, LAURA PICKARD, CLAY PICKARD, GEORGE TY NEDROW, and DAVID TUK NEDROW, Petitioners-Respondents,
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF FREMONT COUNTY, Respondent-Appellant
As Amended March 31, 2015.
2015 Opinion No. 5
Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Fremont County. Hon. Gregory W. Moeller, District Judge.
The decision of the district court is affirmed.
Hall Angell Starnes, LLP, Idaho Falls, for appellant. Nathan Starnes argued.
William Lynn Hossner, Esq., St. Anthony, argued for respondents.
HORTON, Justice. Justices EISMANN, J. JONES and Justice Pro Tem WALTERS, CONCUR. Chief Justice BURDICK Dissents from part III.B without opinion.
This appeal comes before this Court upon judicial review of an action by the Board of County Commissioners for Fremont County (the Board). The Board adopted an Official Fremont County Road Map (the Map) pursuant to Idaho Code section 40-202. The Map depicted the North Road as a county road. Property owners along the North Road petitioned for judicial review. The district court determined the Board lacked substantial and competent evidence to designate the North Road as a county road and vacated the Board's decision. The Board appealed. We affirm.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
This case arises from the Board's efforts to prepare an official county road map that complies with Idaho Code section 40-202. Idaho Code section 40-202 requires every county or highway district in Idaho to make an " initial selection of the county highway system" by preparing a map that shows the general location of public highways and rights-of-way in the county and, after public hearing, adopt the map as the official system road map.
Initially, the Board researched the status of various roads, sought written comments, and held three public information hearings in July of 2012 to identify public roads. All roads that were preliminarily identified as public were placed on maps that were available at the meetings and through the Fremont County website. Following the public information meetings, Fremont County Public Works staff reviewed the comments and,
if the comments were found to be persuasive, the maps were amended.
On September 27, 2012, another hearing was held to receive public comments on the proposed official highway map. At the hearing, Board Chairman Ron " Skip" Hurt explained, " so tonight it's kind of the culmination of about two years of research that Betty Davis, who works in [the] Public Works Department[,] has done." He also added:
We feel like we've gone over these [maps] pretty carefully and tonight what we want to hear from you is if there's anything on these maps now that you think is not designated correctly, something that we missed or something that's private which should be public or that should be private.
At this hearing George Ty Nedrow (Ty Nedrow) and David Tuk Nedrow (Tuk Nedrow) stated that the North Road, which was slated to be included on the Map as a public road, should not be included because it was private. Tuk Nedrow stated that the North Road:
goes through a quarter mile of our property and a quarter mile of Mr. [Atchley]'s and it goes through a half a mile of BLM and then hits the Forest Service and the Forest Service has had that road closed for 25 years and I doubt they're going to open it no matter what the County Commissioners do.
The North Road is also known as the Old Yellowstone Mail Route Road or Snow Creek Road. Ty Nedrow explained how the North Road was historically used as a shortcut on the Old Yellowstone Mail Route, explaining that it was occasionally used by empty stagecoaches traveling from West Yellowstone to Idaho Falls.
During the hearing, the question arose whether the North Road was a United States Revised Statute 2477 (R.S. 2477) road and thus a public right-of-way. In order to ascertain whether certain roads were R.S. 2477 roads, the ...