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Moyie Springs sues resident for setback violation

by VICTOR CORRAL MARTINEZ
Staff Writer | July 21, 2021 10:31 AM

MOYIE SPRINGS — The City of Moyie Springs has sued resident Rosanne Smith for violations regarding residence zoning.

According to court documents, Smith’s property falls under the residence zone, which outlines every building erected or structurally altered will have a setback clearance of 20 feet and a side yard of no less than 5 feet.

“The defendant has erected and located a carport outbuilding on the aforesaid property that is in violation with that portion of ordinance 19A of the City of Moyie Springs.”

The complaint details Moyie Springs administrators have made verbal and written requests to Smith to correct her violations.

Additionally, the city is asking for the correction to the violations but is seeking legal fees incurred to prosecute the actions in court. The court amount sought by the city is $1,000.

If Smith contests the amount, the city asks for $250 for every hour for the plaintiff’s attorney fees and any additional costs.

The city is requesting Smith correct the setback violation within 30 days of judgment.

Smith’s counterclaim and answer deny many of the statements made by the plaintiff, including the term outbuilding to describe the carport on the property.

The counterclaim alleges the plaintiff has brought their claim against the defendant in bad faith and no nuisance or safety peril exists with the carport.

Smith’s response alleges that City has waived enforcement due to its lack of enforcing other codes against other residents with similar situations.

The document details plaintiff’s complaint is not based on city code because “a carport is undefined and does not constitute an outbuilding.”

Smith additionally details a site location permit issued on May 12, 2010, with a “24 x 30 carport” and a follow-up email on Nov. 7, 2018, from City Clerk of Moyie Springs, Donna Wilson-Funkhouser, stating John Nelson noticed the construction was too close to the property line.

Additionally, the documents claim Moyie Springs Mayor Steve Economu spoke about legal counsel for a garage built too close to the property line. The council motioned to have an attorney draft a letter about the violation.

Smith’s counterclaim alleges selective prosecution because the “City has not prosecuted construction violations by similarly situated coyote property owners.”

The document alleges the city is motivated by a discriminatory purpose because Economu and Smith previously had a business dispute before the complaint.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for Sept. 22, and a court trial is scheduled for Oct. 25, with First District Judicial Officer Barbara Buchanan presiding over the case.