Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Comments Roll In on SB170

In my other life, as I work to coordinate legislative information for Utah APA, I have been getting more comments on SB170 than I have ever gotten for any legislative issue.

The Salt Lake Trib carried a story on the bill this morning, which was pretty accurate (not completely, but close enough). Jacob Santini, the reporter who wrote the story, called me this afternoon on follow-up, and we talked at length about the impact the bill would likely have on the future of planning and land use regulation in Utah communities. Essentially, we talked about how the bill would put almost all the presumption of validity with the landowner who was making the application. Landowners adjacent or nearby would have much more limited say over the proposal of the applying landowner. I told Jacob that generally, local governments have been cast in the role of balancing private property rights (those of the applying landowner) against those of the community (all the other landowners). This bill, I think, would change that.

Some of the more interesting comments sent in:

Mike Hyde, Duchesne County Community Development Administrator, said "Limiting legislative decisions to those listed (in the bill) will benefit developers and hurt citizens in the planning process. Local government would have to develop and adhere to clear and objective criteria for most rezone requests, which limits the legislative [role] of local officials who were elected to make such decisions."

Jim McGuire, Washington City planner, wrote "...what caught my attention was the minimal amount of information being proposed for a preliminary plat. In our area and probably many of your areas, the easy available lands are gone. The more difficult lands are the ones in which we need more information (e.g., slope analysis, geotechnical report, flood study, hazard assessment, traffic impact study, etc.). Even if the lands aren't difficult to develop we need as much information as possible to make good decisions because once the preliminary plat is approved the vesting is in place."

Cory Snyder, Centerville City planner, said "I am concerned about (the bill) turning the rezone process into an administrative decision. I thought I had problems here in Centerville when Wal-Mart applied for a conditional use permit. It now appears that unless the rezone equates to more than 25% of the area of the city, all rezone applications must be approved by the local authority even when considering technical evidence, specifically if it can also be debated by other experts. That essentially allows any petitioner to purchase an argument to force an approval. Thus any development can just simply expect any kind of development in any zone."

Nick Norris of Taylorsville, wrote "It seems to me that this bill would take away from local governement the power to determine what kind of communities they want to be, from requiring minimal info on preliminary subdivision plats to what can be included in a general plan. It also seems to eliminate any need for any kind of zoning, (as the bill) states that the land use authority MUST adopt changes that conform to the LANDOWNER'S request...which deals with intensity of uses and other similar uses in the "vicinity," whatever that means."

And finally, Vaughn Pickell, an attorney with Smith Hartvigsen in Salt Lake, said "There seems to be nothing good or redeeming about the bill. The bill would be a drastic departure from the newly revised LUDMA from last year. It even provides criminal penalties for city employees or officials who may violate LUDMA or local land use ordinances. Imagine the chilling effect it could have on citizen participation on local boards, commissions, and councils... .

"Other particularly odious provisions include that a legislative body must consider the request of the land owner and adopt changes that conform to the landowner's requests as closely as possible. This would virtually eliminate zoning because a legislative body would in most cases have to grant the request. This would alter the zoning map and general plan on an ad hoc basis.

"The bill would also remove aesthetics from the list of considerations to be included in preparing the general plan. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has long held that aesthetics are a good and permissible consideration for local land use decisions. See Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, 33 (1954) ("The concept of public welfare is broad and inclusive... . The values it represents are spiritual as well as physical, aesthetic as well as monetary. It is within the power of the legislature to determine that the community should be beautiful as well as healthy, spacious as well as clean, well-balanced as well as carefully patrolled.")"

Keep those comments coming, folks.


At 6:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush is forever saying that democracies do not invade other countries and start wars. Well, he did just that. He invaded Iraq, started a war, and killed people. What do you think? Why has bush turned our country from a country of hope and prosperity to a country of belligerence and fear.
If ever there was ever a time in our nation's history that called for a change, this is it!
The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren't living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

At 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...
Dont forget!


Post a Comment

<< Home