JACKSON HOLE, WYO –County commissioners showed no interest in revisiting a case they decided in January, allowing the Tzompa family to keep their affordable home under threat of forced sale.
The Tzompas appealed a decision of the Jackson/Teton County Housing Authority Board (JTCHA) to the Board of County Commissioners, who reviewed the record on January 29, 2018. The BCC reversed the findings of the JTCHA, allowing the Tzompas to continue to possess their home in Melody Ranch and presumably sell it when it reaches a 20-year sunset clause and all restrictions are removed.
At their regular meeting Tuesday, commissioners were presented with an opportunity to rehear the matter with a full board present. The original case was presented to three of the five commissioners—Paul Vogelheim, Greg Epstein, and Smokey Rhea. They took no action on that.
The BCC also passed an Order of Approval in the appellate decision. The vote was 2-1 with Vogelheim opposed. Vogelheim was also the dissenting vote on January 29.
The appellants, Adela and Moises Tzompa (“the Tzompas”), own a house built on Lot 72 in Melody Ranch, an Attainable Housing Lot subject to Special Restrictions for Melody Ranch Residential Unit Two Second Filing Subdivision (Attainable Housing Lots) (“Special Restrictions”).
On May 1, 2017, the JTCHA sent a Notice of Breach of Special Restrictions to the Tzompas alleging that they do not occupy their house at 4246 Melody Ranch Drive as their sole and exclusive primary residence at least nine months of each year (“the occupancy requirement”), as required by the Special Restrictions. The Tzompas contested the violation notice set forth in the Notice of Breach.
A hearing was held by the JTCHA Board on July 11, 2017. The three Board Members were Matt Faupel, Chairman, Amy Robinson, and Danielle Goldyn-Haigh. At the conclusion of the hearing the Board made the finding that the Tzompas were in violation of the occupancy requirement. On August 16, 2017, the Board adopted its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order Finding Moises and Adela Tzompa in Violation of Special Restriction (“the August 16, 2017 Order”).
The Tzompas timely appealed the August 2017 Order to the Commissioners, who heard the appeal at a public meeting on January 29, 2018. Present at the meeting were three of the Commissioners, Smokey Rhea, as Acting Chairperson, and Greg Epstein and Paul Vogelheim. The three Commissioners constituted a quorum. Also present was Hearing Officer Mike Barton, who officiated the proceeding in behalf of the Commissioners.
The Commissioners reviewed the record, read the briefs submitted by the parties, and heard oral arguments from counsel. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of the Tzompas, and reversed the decision of the JTCHA Board. Based on their review, the Commissioners, among other things, determined that it is impossible to reconcile the evidence of the photo/video record which demonstrates that the Tzompas occupy their house virtually every night and leave early in the morning, with the testimony of the neighbors that the Tzompas do not live at their Melody Ranch house. The physical evidence, i.e., the photo/video record produced by the Housing Department corroborates the Tzompas’ testimony.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
The testimony of Moises Tzompa, Nelly Tzompa and James Triplett regarding the Tzompas’ work schedule was consistent and uncontradicted. It was also supported by the low utility bills at their Melody Ranch house, their paychecks, and the trail cam video. The summary of the trail cam video clearly indicated that the Tzompas were leaving their house early each morning and that their vehicle was parked in the driveway at night. The Housing Authority Board failed to give this evidence the weight to which it was entitled.
IT IS ORDERED that the decision of the JTCHA that the Tzompas do not occupy their house at Melody Ranch as their sole and exclusive residence at least nine months each year, as set forth in the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order Finding Moises and Adela Tzompa in Violation of Special Restriction dated August 16, 2017, is hereby reversed.
BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF TETON COUNTY, WYOMING
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