MAPLETON — Wendell Gibby has filed yet another lawsuit.

This time he's suing the Mapleton Board of Adjustments, who Gibby claims demonstrated bias when the board overturned the city's issuance of two grading permits for his controversial Maple Mountain property.

"The decision of the Board of Adjustment was arbitrary, capricious and illegal," Gibby's legal attorney Dayle Jeffs wrote in a legal brief filed Feb. 14 in 4th District Court.

City Attorney Eric Todd Johnson disputed Gibby's accusations of biased proceedings.

"(Gibby) seems to claim bias anytime a decision-making body doesn't give him everything he asks for," Johnson said.

Gibby did not return a call seeking response, but Gibby has previously said allegations that he uses lawsuits to get his way are nonsense.

The Board of Adjustment decision in question goes back to last year when a group called Friends of Maple Mountain Inc. disputed the City Council's decision to rezone Gibby's 120-acre Maple Mountain property from a critical environment zone to a planned development zone. The upgrade would allow Gibby to build 47 homes instead of 23.

Friends of Maple Mountain wanted the rezone brought before the public in a referendum and circulated a petition that gathered more than 1,000 signatures. But city administrators said the issue wasn't referable. The group then obtained a temporary restraining order barring the city from rezoning the land until a judge heard the case.

Meanwhile, the city issued two grading permits Oct. 15, 2007, to allow Gibby to relocate power poles that transversed his property. Work crews started to plow a road through the property, but Friends of Maple Mountain obtained yet another restraining order Oct. 19, 2007, to halt the excavation until the Board of Adjustments reviewed the issuance of the permits.

The board convened Nov. 13, 2007, but Gibby protested the proceeding because two the board members — Joyce Clifton and Boyd Adams — had signed the Friends of Maple Mountain petition. Adams had excused himself from the meeting, but Clifton was still present, which Gibby didn't feel was appropriate.

"You should, out of an abundance of conscience, recuse yourself," he told Clifton at the time.

The board decided to continue the meeting to a later date to sort out legal issues. Adams said he didn't recuse himself because he didn't think he could review the situation objectively. He said he initially recused himself to avoid "a fuss."

"I just had a feeling Wendell was going to cry 'Foul,"' he said.

When the board reconvened Dec. 17, 2007, an independent attorney told Adams he could participate so long as he didn't have conflicts of interest or financial interests in the board's decision.

When the board overturned the city's issuance of the two grading permits, it had nothing to do with Gibby, Adams said.

"We weren't voting for you or against you," he said. "We were trying to decide if the City Council violated their own ordinances."

According to the legal brief, Gibby doesn't agree with Adam's assertion.

"Conducting the board of adjustment meeting with said biased members over the objections of (Gibby) was a violation of (his) due process of rights," Jeffs wrote.

But Johnson said signing a petition doesn't automatically demonstrate prejudice.

"I don't think simply saying, 'We would like to vote for something,' is enough to say someone is biased," he said. "That doesn't tell you which way they will vote, it just tells you they would like to vote."

Gibby is asking the court to overturn the board's decision and to validate the grading permits. No court date has been set as of yet.


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