District court judge puts a hold on Mayo
Post Independent Staff
Bob Mayo’s constitutional challenge of Garfield County building ordinances hit a snag Oct. 15 when a district court judge ruled against Mayo.
Mayo, of 2095 County Road 245, New Castle, built a 2,400-square-foot structure on his 66-acre property without a county building permit last year, then turned it over to the American Legion Post 164 for a meeting hall.
Mayo claimed he didn’t need to have the structure inspected, or obtain a conditional use permit, because it was an agricultural building.
Garfield County filed a temporary restraining order against Mayo, and his wife, Naomi, in August to prevent the structure from being used as a meeting hall.
On Oct. 15, following a hearing, District Judge Thomas Ossola upheld the county’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the Mayos. His ruling bars them from using the structure for anything other than agricultural purposes “as defined by county ordinances and regulations,” according to court documents.
Bob Mayo was not available for comment.
Ossola said the Mayos, the defendants in the case, failed to convince him that the county ordinances and regulations are unconstitutional, and were unconstitutionally applied to them.
The plaintiff, Garfield County, proved that “irreparable harm may result from the continued conduct of defendants in using the unpermitted structure for nonagricultural purposes,” Ossola wrote.
At the Oct. 15 hearing, county building inspector Andy Schwaller testified that a structure intended purely for agricultural use is not required to have a building permit. He also testified the building’s amenities indicated “human habitation or use for nonagricultural purposes.”
The county and Mayos didn’t dispute the fact the building contains bathrooms, carpeting and “other amenities inconsistent with agricultural use,” said court documents.
Before the building can be used for community meetings or as a community center, the Mayos must first obtain the appropriate county permits and authorizations, Ossola ruled.
Ossola also ordered the county to submit a written status report by Dec. 1.
Garfield County attorney Don DeFord briefed the county commissioners on the case during an executive session Monday.
In June, Mayo, 72, told the commissioners he didn’t plan to have the building inspected and would not obtain a special-use permit.
He said the United States has a long history of grange halls and other public meeting places in rural parts of the country, and for the county to require a special-use permit for his building is a violation of the public’s rights to gather.
“That’s our Constitutional right,” he told the commissioners in June.
Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534
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