It was Bruce Daley's dream to retire to Park City, Utah, and build his home on the most spectacular hilltop he could find. But his dream has turned into a nightmare.
In the mid-1990s, the Tucson, Ariz., resident and former auto-body shop owner began the planning process for his ridgetop home in Park City. During the process, the Summit County development code changed to prohibit ridgetop building, but Daley claims that the planning department failed to notify him of the change.
So Daley began to build. When county planners noticed the steel structure rising out of the ridge above town, the county commission revoked Daley's building permit and told him to tear down the structure and put it somewhere else.
Now Daley's attorney, Bruce Baird, has filed suit against the county, saying the county has clearly contradicted itself in its dealings with his client. Baird acknowledges the structure violates the current ridgetop ordinance. But he says that, at first, one county planner told Daley to build anywhere on his lot. Then, when the code changed in 1998, a different planner told him that the county simply "discouraged" him from building on ridgelines - but didn't say the practice was outright prohibited.
Tom Clyde, a member of the County Board of Adjustment, which concurred with the commission, acknowledges that county planners used vague language to prevent Daley from building on the ridge. But Clyde says the inconsistent advice should have led Daley to ask more questions.
Deputy County Attorney Dave Thomas, wary of the precedent that Daley's house could establish, adds, "If the house stays, the public interest is devastated."
In mid-November, a district judge ordered the Board of Adjustment to reconsider the case.