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Fayard v. Design Committee of the Homestead Subdivision

April 23, 2010

CYNTHIA FAYARD AND GALEFORCE, LLC, A WYOMING LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY, APPELLANTS (PLAINTIFFS),
v.
THE DESIGN COMMITTEE OF THE HOMESTEAD SUBDIVISION, 2ND AND 3RD FILINGS, A WYOMING UNINCORPORATED ASSOCIATION; SANDRA DAY; HORTON SPITZER; AND GARY FINKEL, EACH AS AN INDIVIDUAL AND AS A MEMBER OF THE DESIGN COMMITTEE OF THE HOMESTEAD SUBDIVISION, 2ND AND 3RD FILINGS, APPELLEES (DEFENDANTS).



Appeal from the District Court of Teton County The Honorable Nancy J. Guthrie, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kite, Justice.

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

[¶1] Cynthia Fayard and Galeforce, LLC*fn1 (collectively "Fayard") own lots in the Homestead Subdivision in Teton County. Fayard filed a declaratory judgment and injunctive action against the Design Committee of the Homestead Subdivision, 2nd and 3rd Filings, and committee members Sandra Day, Horton Spitzer and Gary Finkel (collectively "the Design Committee"), alleging the Design Committee had improperly approved a special assessment to pave the common roads. The district court ruled that the Design Committee had acted within its authority under the subdivision covenants and granted summary judgment in favor of the Design Committee. We affirm.

ISSUES

[¶2] Fayard presents a general issue on appeal:

A. Did the District Court err when it granted [the Design Committee‟s] motion for summary judgment?

The Design Committee‟s statement of the issues is more detailed:

A. Were the findings of the District Court clearly erroneous or contrary to the great weight of the evidence because the Covenants were so ambiguous on their face that they presented a double meaning which an objective person could not understand?

B. Did [Fayard] present evidence to the District Court that [the Design Committee] acted without reasonable care in protecting the wildlife and aesthetics of the subdivision?

C. [Is Fayard] equitably barred from seeking relief by the doctrine of laches because [her] inaction to stop the paving was inexcusably delayed?

FACTS

[¶3] Fayard owns two lots in the Homestead Subdivision, Second Filing, and one lot in Homestead Subdivision, Third Filing, in Teton County (Homestead II/III). Homestead II/III is governed by a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs).

Homestead II/III is part of a larger development known as the John Dodge development, which includes the John Dodge Homestead subdivisions, the Beehive subdivision, and the Homestead subdivisions. The development shares a common road system.

[¶4] In 2005, several portions of the John Dodge development decided to pave their roads. The Design Committee was asked if Homestead II/III wanted to participate in the paving project. The Design Committee polled the homeowners and determined that they were not in favor of paving at that time.

[¶5] In January 2006, the Design Committee met at Ms. Fayard‟s home. The minutes of the meeting stated: "All agreed to review the issue of paving the roads in the spring after we‟ve had a chance to see how the previously paved roads have held up through the winter. No further action at this time." Ms. Fayard‟s term on the Design Committee expired in January 2006.

[¶6] In May 2006, the Design Committee learned that the remaining portions of the John Dodge development were going to pave their roads over the summer. Consequently, the committee sent ballots to the lot owners in Homestead II/III to gather votes on using a special assessment to pave the roads in their portion of the development, as well. They also sent ballots to lot owners in the Beehive subdivision. Although the Beehive lot owners did not have an official right to vote on the matter, the Design Committee considered the Beehive vote as advisory. Of the nine lot owners of Homestead II/III, six returned ballots in favor of the paving. The remaining three votes belonged to Fayard; those ballots were never returned, although Ms. Fayard verbally objected to the project. The Beehive subdivision lot owners all voted in favor of the paving and helped pay for it.

[ΒΆ7] Relying on the vote, the Design Committee issued a resolution on June 14, 2006, approving a special assessment for the paving project. The first phase of the paving was completed that summer and the remainder of the project was completed in the summer of 2007. The Design Committee invoiced the lot owners for the paving costs. Although ...


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