Natrona County District Court Judge Thomas Sullins last week found in favor of a Natrona County couple in a contentious dispute with the county over their large antique car and truck collection.
Dana and Judy Jones had claimed they were exempt from the county’s junk abandoned car ordinances and limitations under a grandfather clause, as their collection began before the county had zoning laws. They also claimed they were collecting antique vehicles (over 25 years old), which is permitted under state law.
In his ruling, Sullins agreed the car collection on the Jones’ property at 335 N. 8 Mile Rd. fit the grandfather exemption, as it had been started prior to the county adopting zoning laws in 1980, and that county citations for excessive vehicles would have resulted in an unlawful taking of property.
Sullins found, however, that about 10 of the 450 or so vehicles on the Jones’ property didn’t fit the definition of antique, which means those particular cars and trucks would come under county regulations. The order allows the Joneses to continue collecting antique vehicles.
The county had claimed the Jones’ property didn’t qualify under the grandfather exemption, saying car collection hadn’t been the “principle use” prior to the zoning regulations.
The Jones’ suit originally included two parcels, but Sullins had ruled earlier that the second property, which had about 120 vehicles stored on it, didn’t fit the grandfather exemption.
The suit may set a precedent for others that have been fighting the county over its crackdown against junk and abandoned vehicles.