Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hamilton Montana Judge Haynes is Ravalli County's only hope..

Hamilton Montana Judge Haynes Seems to Be the ONLY judge in Ravalli County that basis "Judgement" within the Laws of the State of Montana.

As you know Hamilton Montana Judge Haynes denied me a protective order in August of 2009. Hamilton Montana Judge Haynes did this based in Montana Law and Had the balls to sign a paper that stated the reasons why with the Montana Codes that applied and sign that paper. I have no issue with Hamilton Montana Judge Haynes. Basing decisions in Law is what we are Fighting for ... Recent News on Hamilton Montana Judge Haynes.

"Judge Haynes rules against Ravalli County in subdivision lawsuit

Ravalli County was "arbitrary and capricious" when it turned down a variance for two subdivisions east of Florence in 2008, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The Ravalli County Commission will get another chance to review the variance request as part of Ravalli County District Judge James Haynes' decision.

In his 43-page ruling, Haynes said the commission's decision to turn down a variance request for the Morado Mountain Estate and Sandhill Ridge subdivisions was flawed on a number of levels.

The two subdivisions proposed to create 93 single-family lots when their original applications were submitted in 2006.

The developers requested a variance in 2008 from the county's subdivision regulations governing road standards for 3.3 miles of Eight Mile Creek Road that accessed their properties.

That roadway has a 50-foot easement. New county subdivision regulations required a 60-foot easement.

The developers weren't able to obtain easements to make the road wider. Instead, they offered to pay $600,000 for paving materials to repair the roadway, which county road department officials said was in disrepair.

The county would have paid $300,000 to provide the labor to improve the road.

The county planning and road departments recommended approval of the variance. By a narrow margin, the planning board voted to recommend denial.

On May 6, 2008, the commission voted 2-2 on the variance request. Commissioner Alan Thompson was unexpectedly absent from the meeting due to a medical emergency.

The matter was then postponed until Thompson could weigh in and break the tie vote.

When the commission met again on May 27, commissioners Kathleen Driscoll and Carlotta Grandstaff changed their votes and the variance was denied 3-2.

The developers filed suit in August 2008.

Their complaint focused on the commission's decision to allow the entire board to re-vote on May 27 and the process the commission used to apply the county's variance criteria.

In his ruling, Haynes agreed the county had come up short in both areas.

In its decision to allow the entire board to re-vote, the county argued additional information was added between the first and second meetings, which should have opened the door for consideration by the entire board.

The developers said they only agreed to the first meeting's postponement to allow Thompson a chance to cast his vote.

Thompson voted in favor of the variance.

Haynes said if the commission decided the additional information was anything more than clarification, it was required to evaluate whether the public should have the opportunity to comment.

"The record shows the BCC (commission) never evaluated, categorized or otherwise issued the requisite determination about the fulfillment of the public's right to comment," Haynes wrote.

Both parties made a mutual mistake over the intent and scope of postponing the meeting and the commission considered additional information without following its own rules, Haynes said.

Haynes said the commission was arbitrary and capricious in its decision to proceed with a re-vote.

Likewise, Haynes said the commission failed to appropriately consider the county's variance criteria.

For instance, Haynes said the commission "never squarely addressed" whether imposing strict compliance with a requirement to purchase 3.3 miles of additional easement without the power of eminent domain constituted an undue hardship on the developers.

Haynes said his decision focused on the commission's process, not the substance of its decisions.

Since both sides came up short in a number of aspects in the case, Haynes said it would be premature for him to order a reversal of the county's decision before the commission had a chance to revisit the issue.

"Both parties contributed to the May 6 postponement, neither party clearly grasped the type of variance under scrutiny, and neither party understood whether the five criteria were properly applied," the judge wrote.

Haynes ordered the case remanded back to the commission for new hearings on the developers' original subdivision and associated variance applications.

The judge dismissed Ravalli County's motion for summary judgment. He allowed the county 20 days to file any briefs on why it disagrees with his decision.

Ravalli County Commission Chair Greg Chilcott said Thursday the commission would not be able to reconsider the matter before the New Year. Chilcott said he hadn't yet read Haynes' decision.

Grandstaff and the developer's attorney, William Van Canagan, did not return a phone call. "

Reach reporter Perry Backus at 363-3300 or

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