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Officer chosen to review appeal to housing violation

October 19, 2017

Mike Barton has been appointed as the hearing officer in a family’s appeal of the forced sale of its attainable home.

In a July hearing, the Jackson/Teton County Housing Authority Board, a three-person volunteer board that hears appeals for the Housing Department, voted unanimously to find Moises and Adela Tzompa in violation of their deed restrictions after a five-hour hearing.

The Tzompas purchased their Melody Ranch home in 1999 with a restriction requiring they occupy the home as their “exclusive and primary residence (at least nine months out of each year).” The Housing Authority determined the family was in violation of the clause, a finding that could lead to a forced sale of the property.

The Tzompa family appealed, and the case is before the Teton County Board of County Commissioners for review.

On Tuesday, commissioners voted to hire Barton, a Lander-based attorney, as the hearing officer — essentially a pseudo-judge who will hear both sides and make a recommendation to the board. His contract with the county pays $150 per hour plus travel expenses.

Because the case is an appeal, the board will not see new evidence. It will review the briefs and the findings presented at the July hearing to determine whether the Housing Authority Board acted appropriately.

The hearing is expected to take place this winter.