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For the week of January 7 - 13, 2004


Judge’s ruling keeps Triumph Springs case

Express Staff Writer

Fifth District Court Judge James May ruled in Hailey last week that he will not dismiss the last of seven relevant counts in a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Sun Valley.

Rand Peebles, Sun Valley city attorney, and Carl Ericson, a Boise-based attorney also representing the city, on Dec. 22, 2003, had asked May to dismiss one of seven counts listed in a 2002 lawsuit brought by development group Lane Ranch Partnership.

In a separate motion, Ericson on the same day asked that the court award the city approximately $86,000 in attorney fees and court costs.

In a decision issued Dec. 30, 2003, May denied both motions by the city attorneys, thereby keeping the case alive in the 5th District Court.

The debate at issue is over a 2001 application by Lane Ranch Partnership to rezone a portion of a 166-acre parcel of property known as Triumph Springs.

The application included a proposal to rezone property from the city’s Outdoor-Recreation zoning district to the Rural and Ranch Estate zoning district. The proposal also requested an associated amendment to the Sun Valley Comprehensive Plan.

The rezone request was issued to accommodate the development of a new Triumph Springs subdivision, which would include seven new residential lots north of Lane Ranch subdivision and the southern entrance to Sun Valley.

After the city denied the application, attorneys for Lane Ranch then filed a lawsuit against the city. The suit alleged in part that the city’s decision was an "unlawful taking" and demanded compensation of more than $10 million.

In June 2003, city attorneys asked the court to make a so-called "summary judgment" in the case.

In August 2003, May issued judgment on six counts listed in the lawsuit, essentially ruling in favor of the city and rejecting a claim by the developers that they were entitled to the proposed rezone.

However, the seventh count in the lawsuit—which requested "judicial review of the city’s actions"—had been set aside by the two parties and was not directly ruled upon by May in his summary judgment.

In his most recent decision, May noted that the petition for judicial review of the matter "is a separate issue and is different from those issues presented previously on the defendant’s motion for summary judgment."

May also ruled that "there is no final judgment on the merits (of the case) and it would therefore be inappropriate to award attorney fees at this time."

Peebles had said a decision favorable to the city would have likely meant the case would be appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.