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Vargas Limited Partnership v. Four "H" Ranches Architectural Control Committee

February 25, 2009

VARGAS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, A DEFUNCT WYOMING LIMITED PARTNERSHIP; AND KIT MARTIN, INDIVIDUALLY, APPELLANTS (DEFENDANTS),
v.
FOUR "H" RANCHES ARCHITECTURAL CONTROL COMMITTEE, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, The Honorable Edward L. Grant, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Golden, Justice

Before VOIGT, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, KITE, BURKE, JJ.

[¶1] Four "H" Ranches Architectural Control Committee (ACC) brought suit on behalf of adjoining landowners in a residential subdivision located in Laramie County, Wyoming, to enforce the subdivision‟s declaration of protective covenants and enjoin the construction or improvements of several buildings by Vargas Limited Partnership, a defunct Wyoming Limited Partnership, and Kit Martin, individually (hereinafter referred to collectively as Martin), on their property in the subdivision. After the district court denied Martin‟s motion to dismiss, which asserted that the ACC was not the real party in interest, the district court conducted a bench trial and entered an order upholding the enforcement of the subdivision‟s declaration of protective covenants, permanently enjoining Martin‟s construction of any buildings or improvements not consistent with plans and specifications submitted to and approved by the ACC, and requiring the removal of the incompletely constructed buildings designated as Building A prime, Building A double prime, and Building B from Martin‟s property. Martin appeals the district court‟s order. We affirm.

ISSUES

[¶2] Martin presents, and ACC accepts, this statement of the issues:

I. Whether the District Court erred when it ruled that [ACC] has standing/real party in interest in this case.

II. Whether the District Court erred in its conclusion of law that construction of Buildings A and A Double Prime was substantially incomplete.*fn1

III. Whether the District Court abused its discretion when it entered its order for [Martin] to remove the buildings in question.

FACTS

[¶3] Four "H" Ranches Subdivision comprises eight parcels of approximately forty acres each in Laramie County, Wyoming. Hettich Enterprises, Inc., a Wyoming corporation (Hettich), the owner of all eight parcels in the subdivision, filed of record in 1996 a Declaration of Protective Covenants to which all eight parcels and their subsequent owners were subject. Of the protective covenants, those most pertinent to this appeal are:

1. Parcels shall consist of forty acres more or less and not more than one single family residence shall be constructed on each parcel.

8. No building shall be erected . . . on any lot until the construction plans and specifications and a plan showing the location of the structure has been approved by the architectural control committee as to quality of workmanship and materials, harmony of external design with existing structures, and as to location with respect to topography and finish grade elevation. . . . Any structure must be closed in and exterior finished within one (1) year from date of start of construction.

9. The architectural control committee shall be composed of two officers of Hettich Enterprises, Inc., and one owner of record of a parcel in Four "H" Ranches. . . . When all parcels are sold two members will be selected by owners of record and one will be a representative of Hettich Enterprises, Inc. who shall thereafter serve as the members of the committee. . . .

10. The committee‟s approval or disapproval as required in these covenants shall be in writing. In the event the committee or its designated representative fails to approve or disapprove within thirty (30) days, after plans and specifications have been submitted to it, or in any event if no suit to enjoin the construction has been commenced prior to the completion thereof, approval will not be required and the related covenants shall be deem [sic] to have been fully complied with.

11. The principal dwelling shall have a minimum fully enclosed ground floor area devoted to living purposes, exclusive of porches, terraces and garage[,] of one thousand (1000) square feet, except that where the said principal dwelling is a one and one-half (11/2 the minimum may be reduced to six hundred fifty (650‟) square feet of ground floor area, providing that the total living area of the one and one-half (11/2 or two (2) story dwelling or two (2) floors is not less than twelve hundred (1200‟) square feet.

16. No noxious or offensive activity shall be carried on upon any parcel, nor shall anything be done thereon which may be or may become an annoyance or nuisance to the neighborhood.

19. Enforcement shall be by proceeding at law or in equity, against any person or persons violating or attempting to violate any covenant, either to restrain violation or recover damages.

20. Home owners association: At such time as seventy-five percent (75%) of the total parcels are sold or under contract, a meeting of all owners shall be called and an association formed[.] From that time forward the association shall be responsible for the maintenance and operation of all common recreational facilities, enforcement ...


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