Idaho News

Idaho Supreme Court rules against Rebecca Arnold, husband in Stanley subdivision dispute

Rebecca Arnold
Rebecca Arnold

The Idaho Supreme Court last week upheld a decision by the city of Stanley denying a building permit sought by Boise resident Rebecca Arnold.

Arnold, a member of the Ada County Highway District Board, and her husband, Thomas, submitted an application seeking to build an access road from a residential lot to an adjacent street.

The Arnolds were involved in constructing a subdivision through a series of development permits, the first of which was granted in 2004. The application for the road was submitted after an existing permit was set to expire and could not be renewed.

The City Council denied the permit at a meeting on Feb. 13, 2014, finding that installation of the road was inconsistent with the approved plat and previously approved building permits.

The council said the couple’s application also sought permission for improvements on the city’s right of way, not just on the Arnolds’ property. In addition, the council said the Arnolds were not allowed to change the point of access to the property without an amended plat.

In May 2015, a district court judge found the council’s decision was supported by “substantial and competent evidence” and was not arbitrary or capricious.

That summer, the Arnolds sought a rehearing, which was denied by the judge. They later filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the council’s denial of the permit application is not subject to judicial review, under Stanley’s municipal code.

The court declined to award attorney fees to either side.

The dispute between the Arnolds and the city boiled over into a 2014 election when Rebecca Arnold ran against Sam Hoagland for a judge’s seat in the 4th Judicial District.

A political action group headed by former Stanley Mayor Hannah Stauts worked to defeat Arnold, even though Stanley is not part of the 4th District. The group was upset that the Arnolds sued the city six times in trying to develop their 5-acre parcel and cost the 68-resident town tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

The Arnolds claimed the city added new requirements after the initial permit was approved, but before the couple sought the renewal.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell