Wyo. Supreme Court affirms ruling for Sheridan B&B

SHERIDAN — The Wyoming Supreme Court affirmed a 4th Judicial District Court ruling Thursday that will allow a local bed and breakfast to continue operating in its current location.

“We were in our third successful season of a B&B that, for the most part, the people of Sheridan love and support,” Residence Hill Bed and Breakfast owner Rob Bernard said Thursday, adding that he is pleased with the court’s decision.

Oral arguments for the case were heard by the state Supreme Court in January.

The Residence Hill Bed and Breakfast, located on Thurmond Street in Sheridan, opened in 2011 after the city’s board of adjustments issued a special exemption for Rob and Bev Bernard to operate the business out of their home. While the six-bedroom house sits in a residentially zoned area, the Bernards were able to get permission from city authorities to fill five of their rooms with guests and operate as a commercial business.

When the Bernards initially applied for permission to run a bed and breakfast in a residential area, their plan included street parking for their guests. Tim Tarver, a Sheridan attorney, lives approximately one block away from the Bernards.

He has been fighting the introduction of a business into his neighborhood, citing that parking concerns could create a potential safety hazard.

The Bernards’ initial application was denied on the grounds that the business should establish an alternative parking plan. In response, the Bernards had the yard of the home paved to provide off-street parking to their guests and had the new plan endorsed by the city’s engineer.

They then re-filed a new application to run their bed and breakfast, which was approved.

Tarver first took the case to Sheridan’s 4th Judicial District Court, where the court sided with the Bernards. Still unsatisfied with the answer he received there, Tarver continued the appeal process, which landed the case at the Wyoming Supreme Court.

In January, Tarver argued the second application should have been invalidated because the issue had already been decided, a legal principal called res judicata.

Tarver also argued the bed and breakfast created a danger to the neighborhood, was inconsistent with the city’s master plan and that the city’s board of adjustments did not clearly make sufficient findings of fact to substantiate that the proposed business was in compliance with adopted requirements for a special exemption to zoning ordinances.

Furthermore, Tarver re-hashed his argument the city failed to fully consider the impact the business would exert on the surrounding neighborhood.

The Supreme Court concluded that “the Bernards were not barred from filing a second application for a special exemption, the (Board of Adjustments) acted within its authority when it conditioned the special exemption and its decision allowing the special exemption with parking conditions is supported by the record,” and therefore affirmed the 4th Judicial District Court ruling.

“What would have happened if they said the city can’t use an existing ordinance and cannot grant exemption?” Rob Bernard asked Thursday. “Is there a town in Wyoming that would have been comfortable with that?”

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