HB Family Ltd. P'ship v. Teton Cnty. Bd. of Cnty. Comm'rs

Decision Date28 July 2020
Docket NumberS-19-0208
Citation468 P.3d 1081
Parties HB FAMILY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, a Wyoming limited partnership; Robbin D. Mommsen, Trustee of the Robbin D. Mommsen Trust dated May 29, 2002, as amended; Reynolds Pomeroy, II and Bettie B. Pomeroy, Trustees of the Pomeroy Revocable Trust dated November 15, 2017, as amended; Howard G. Hardeman and Elizabeth J. Hardeman, individually and as Trustees of the Elizabeth J. Hardeman Trust; The Hardeman Revocable Trust dated March 15, 2016, as amended, by Scott Hardeman and Stephanie Hardeman, Trustees; Gayle Hardeman Decker and David R. Decker; Deborah J. Hardeman; Christine M. Coleman, as Trustee of the Christine M. Coleman Wyoming QPRT II dated January 2011; William Murray; and Michael N. Christodolou and Kathleen A. Christodolou, Appellants (Petitioners), v. TETON COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, Appellee (Respondent), and Teton Raptor Center, Appellee (Intervenor).
CourtWyoming Supreme Court

Representing Appellant: Matthew W. Kim-Miller and Paula A. Fleck, Holland & Hart LLP, Jackson, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee: Erin E. Weisman, Teton County Attorney's Office, Jackson, Wyoming.

Representing Intervenor: Kim D. Cannon, Davis & Cannon, LLP, Sheridan, Wyoming; Leah C. Schwartz, Ranck & Schwartz, LLC, Jackson, Wyoming.


GRAY, Justice.

[¶1] The Teton County Board of County Commissioners (Board) approved an application by the Teton Raptor Center (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 appeal. We affirm.


[¶2] The issues are:

1. Do the appellants have standing?
2. Was the Board's decision to grant the 2018 amendment to the 2008 CUP arbitrary and capricious or contrary to law?

[¶3] The Hardeman family sold 137 acres in Teton County to the Jackson Hole Land Trust (JHLT), which divided the property into several parcels. JHLT sold some of the parcels to finance its purchase and associated preservation of a certain part of that property via a conservation easement. Six structures, collectively referred to here as the Hardeman Barns, are located on a 26.45-acre parcel relevant to this appeal. At times, for clarity, some of the Hardeman Barns are referred to individually, i.e., the North Barn, the South Barn, and the Bull Barn. The Hardeman Barns are historically designated and are considered iconic structures in the town of Wilson.

[¶4] The Raptor Center leased the 26.45-acre parcel, including the Hardeman Barns, beginning in 2008. The Raptor Center developed a multi-phase plan for operations and use of the property. The Raptor Center is located on the only developable area of the parcel consisting of 2.85 acres. Use of the property is limited by the conservation easements and county zoning regulations. The Raptor Center needed variances and a CUP before it could use the site.

A. The Raptor Center's Prior Variances, Conditional Use and Development Permits
1. The 2008 Variances

[¶5] The size of the acreage and the location of the structures failed to conform with Teton County's Land Development Regulation (LDR) requirements of a minimum 35-acre parcel for institutional use and 300-foot setbacks. In addition, the property floor area ratio1 of 0.014 (based on 15,566 square feet of existing structures) was "nonconforming" under Teton County LDRs, which allowed a floor area ratio of only 0.007 (or 8,065 square feet).

[¶6] The Raptor Center applied for three variances to address these nonconformities. The first sought approval of a floor area ratio of 0.015, which would allow the Raptor Center to take advantage of the existing square footage on the property and add additional square footage for a total of approximately 17,530 square feet of usable non-residential floor area. The second sought approval for a deviation from the required minimum 35 acres (where property is intended for institutional use) to the available 26.45 acres. The third sought permission for a 58-foot setback instead of the required 300-foot setback. The Board granted all three variances in one permit.

2. The 2008 Conditional Use Permit

[¶7] The property was zoned as rural. Use as a raptor center required a CUP. The Raptor Center sought the CUP at the same time it applied for the variances. The Board granted the CUP (and an accompanying development permit), subject to conditions.2 The 2008 CUP allowed the Raptor Center to operate its "non-profit bird care and education facility" and approved the Raptor Center to:

a. Have three employees on site, working in the horse barn/house and machine shed;
b. Provide on-site housing for one of the three employees in the horse barn/house;
c. Conduct classes and workshops, including flight exhibitions, for less than 100 people;
d. House a small raptor library;
e. Host occasional special events for local residents and visitors, also for less than 100 people;
f. Remodel the "machine shed" into a raptor care facility, with cages, weathering yards, flight yards, and a veterinary care room.
3. The 2014 Variance and Development Permit

[¶8] Wyoming Game and Fish regulations required the Raptor Center to segregate resident raptors from wild raptors in rehabilitation. To comply, the Raptor Center, in 2014, sought permission to build a new chambers facility along the western lot line. This necessitated an amended development permit and a new setback variance. The Board approved the amended development permit and the new setback variance.

[¶9] An amended floor area ratio variance was not required because the square footage was within the parameters previously approved in 2008.3 According to the Planning Commission staff report, "[t]he square footage approved in 2008 could be used more efficiently ... if constructed as a separate building dedicated solely to housing rehabilitating birds." Further, the development permit recognizes, "596 square feet of floor area will remain under the previously approved" 2008 variance.4 Neither the 2014 variance nor the 2014 development permit were appealed.

B. The Raptor Center's Purchase of the Property

[¶10] On April 14, 2017, JHLT sold the property to the Raptor Center. In conjunction with the sale, JHLT encumbered the property with a restrictive covenant that required the Raptor Center to maintain the historic North Barn. No other structures on the property are subject to the restrictive covenant.

C. The 2018 Redevelopment

[¶11] In 2017, the Raptor Center decided to implement the final phase of its plan and expand its use of the site. The expanded use envisioned: new and renovated office space; a flight barn and new bird enclosures; two accessory residential units (providing employee housing for four additional people); restoration of the North Barn (which has been unused for thirty years); use of the North Barn as a hub for raptor conservation and education; and replacement of a deteriorated foundation under the North Barn. In total, four of the six existing barns would be preserved, and one barn would be relocated off-site.

[¶12] The Raptor Center applied to amend its 2008 CUP. Extensive public comment occurred. Comments, both positive and negative, were submitted in writing and offered at public hearings.

1. The 2018 Amendment to the 2008 Conditional Use Permit

[¶13] The Planning Commission staff recommended approval of the CUP application contingent on twelve conditions. The Board then voted 4-0 to approve the application with additional conditions for a total of fourteen conditions. The amended CUP allows the Raptor Center to construct new and renovated office space, a flight barn, new bird enclosures, and two accessory residential units providing housing for four people. It requires the removal of a temporary educational programming tent. Finally, it requires the restoration (including replacement of the deteriorated foundation) and preservation of the North Barn, and it allows the Raptor Center to use the barn for raptor conservation and education. The conditions include:

1. The "[m]aximum occupancy on site at any one time is limited to 100 people, including visitors, employees, volunteers, residents and any supplementary staff";
2. The maximum number of public visitors is 150 per day, apart from four days per month when a total of 200 visitors will be allowed;
3. A maximum of twelve employees are allowed on the property at any one time;
4. Public event hours are limited to 9:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. for indoor events and 9:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. for outdoor events;
5. Use is limited to "charitable, educational, administrative and/or community functions consistent with conservation, research, education, and wildlife rehabilitation and the provision of workforce housing"; non-mission events including rental for private parties and events are prohibited;
6. The Raptor Center must submit an annual impact monitoring report to the county and based upon that report, the CUP may be revoked; and
7. Before obtaining a building permit for construction that would utilize the square footage of the South Barn, the South Barn must be relocated off-site.5
D. Subsequent Proceedings

[¶14] Petitioners, the appellants here, appealed to the district court. The district court concluded that only four of the fourteen petitioners had standing and affirmed the Board's decision. The petitioners appealed.

I. Do the appellants have standing?

[¶15] The petitioners/appellants are individuals, trusts and limited partnerships, that either own property in the area or are members of the Hardeman family. The Board argued in district court that none of the fourteen petitioners had standing. The district court concluded Reynolds and Bettie Pomeroy, as trustees of the Pomeroy Revocable Trust (the Pomeroys), and Michael Christodolou and Kathleen Christodolou (Michael and Kathleen together, the Christodolous) had standing. It found the remaining petitioners did not have standing. The...

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