Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It's All About Developer, Not Property, Rights

Stories in the local papers this morning that reflect a powerful push toward certain development-oriented interests.

The DesNews has a story about yesterday's meeting of the League of Cities and Towns and their conclusion that there cannot be an accomodation with those pushing SB170 during the session. Last week's meeting with the proponents of the bill ended with an understanding that there were several issues where agreement between the groups might be reached, but that it just could not be done properly during the legislative session because of the pressure that is always inherent at such a time, and because time will be needed to bring all interested parties to the table to air all concerns and develop a good product. Such an approach was taken with last year's LUDMA rewrite bill, SB60. Not everyone was completely happy with the outcome of that effort, but generally everyone (including those from the development community, we thought) felt it was a worthwhile and good process.

SB170 is touted as being about property rights. I think you can say it is, but for really only one class of property rights -- those of the developer. The rights of property owners around or near a proposed development, under this bill, are severely cutailed. The bill takes a pretty direct shot at the ability of local government to balance the interests of various groups and property owners.

But the proponents of the bill now say that the bill is being rewritten. What was the purpose of the bill in its original form, then? "There's not a thing is this bill that is not merited," said realtor lobbyist Chris Kyler. Yet in the next line, he says, "We anticipate once the bill is rewritten, it will have no practical application or impact in cities that are already treating current and future landowners fairly." Forgive me if I don't exactly trust what you will come up with, Chris, given what the first bill looked like. What landowners are we talking about treating fairly -- all landowners, or only those proposing new development?

Repeatedly, proponents of SB170 have said the original bill was intended as a "wake-up call" to those local governments who are not abiding by the current rules and abusing the process. If that is the case, why not bring those abuses forward, get all the facts out on the table (could it be that some developers are not following the rules, either?), and work through to correct the abuses? This is not a process, however, that lends itself to a reasoned conclusion in the heat of a 6 week legislative session.

Another interesting twist in this overall theme is the on-going dispute in Bluffdale over the development of a large portion of that city's land area, reported this morning in both the Trib and the DesNews. The hearing on the disconnection petition started yesterday, and again to some extent frames the issue of developer rights vs. the rights of the rest of the property owners in the community. There certainly are issues about how those interests are expressed-- through lawsuits on one side and referendum petitions on the other, which muddle the process that the local officials find themselves in the middle of.

Lots of exciting stuff in watch over the next few weeks.

14 Comments:

At 8:57 AM, Blogger James said...

I have to agree with you about what you touched on regarding the manner in which this bill has been brought about. Regardless of what the bill talks about (admittedly a mixed bag), this effort reeks of self-interest and hasn't exactly fostered trust or good will between the various parties that will be affected. Bad form people!!

 
At 11:13 PM, Blogger Former Centerville Citizen said...

Hey Wilf -

Thanks for keeping vigilant on this one. This is one of those bills that looks good on the surface (who wouldn't want to protect property rights?), but when examined further it's bad news.

 
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