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Asphalt Specialties v. Laramie County Planning Commission

Did we achieve our litigation objective? Yes. The Laramie County Planning Commission’s mere guidance document could not restrict our client’s development project.

Court Outcome: Victory in the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Larger Impact: This NCLA victory led the Wyoming State Legislature to pass a law making it explicitly illegal for state agencies to restrict people’s conduct based on nonbinding planning documents. Several other state legislatures in the Western United States followed suit.

Summary: On behalf of Asphalt Specialties Co., Inc. (ASCI), NCLA appealed the Laramie County Planning Commission’s unlawful decision to treat a mere “vision” document like restrictive zoning rules. The Commission did not comply with statutory requirements for zoning.

In making this decision, the Commission wrongly relied only on “guidance”—treating it as if it had the full force and effect of law. Even though ASCI had met the County’s site plan criteria, the Commission relied on other factors to reject the site plan, including the Commission’s “vision” document for how land in that part of Laramie County should be used.

The appeal stemmed from a denial of ASCI’s site plan application for a proposed development of a small gravel operation on private land outside of the zoned area of Laramie County and not subject to any zoning restrictions. ASCI filed its application with the county in May 2018. The Commission held a hearing on the application that July and rejected the site plan via a tie vote.

ASCI appealed the Commission’s decision to the District Court, which in February 2020 affirmed the decision and ignored the Commission’s regulatory overreach. The Court based its decision on a legally unenforceable “Comprehensive Plan”—a mere vision document in the form of a guidance. “Comprehensive plans” like this have no legal effect, cannot be “enforced” against a landowner, and cannot form the basis for denying a site plan application that otherwise complies with Laramie County’s regulations.

In a February 2021 NCLA victory, the Wyoming Supreme Court reversed and set aside the decision of the Laramie County Planning Commission. This reinforced NCLA’s major point that regulators cannot restrict people’s conduct based on nonbinding guidance. Days later, the Commission sent a letter to ASCI, withdrawing all restrictions on the company’s ability to proceed with its project.

Employees of Asphalt Specialties Co., Plaintiff

Kara Rollins
Litigation Counsel

Mandate Reversing Judgement

February 17, 2021 | Read More

Site Plan Letter to Asphalt Specialties Co., Inc

February 10, 2021 | Read More

Decision of the Wyoming Supreme Court

February 1, 2021 | Read More

Appellant/Petitioner Asphalt Specialties Co., Inc.’s Opening Brief

July 21, 2020 | Read More


NCLA Commends New WY Land Use Law that Codifies Its Recent Supreme Court Victory

April 16, 2021 | Read More

In NCLA Victory, WY Supreme Court Reverses Local Planning Comm. Attempt to Enforce Guidance

February 2, 2021 | Read More

NCLA Resists WY Planning Commission’s Attempt to Treat Vision Document Like a Zoning Ordinance

July 21, 2020 | Read More


Wyoming Supreme Court overturns ruling using “guidance” to block mining

February 7, 2023

Adi Dynar on Rush to Reason regarding NCLA’s lawsuits against the IRS and the Laramie County Planning Commission

February 7, 2023




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