Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It's That Time of Year!

Well, the state legislative session is less than a week from beginning, and all manner of "interesting" things begin to pop up.

On the planning agenda, you may recall that last year was the culmination of an extensive, 2-year effort to revise and update the LUDMA. Much of this revision was driven by the development and real-estate community, who wanted, among other things, to see existing case law codified so that all would be readily aware of the rules we should all be playing by.

Part of the understanding was that with these extensive changes, the LUDMA would then be left alone for awhile, to give things time to settle down and play out. Most everyone on all sides seemed agreed to this.

Then, along comes House Speaker Greg Curtis and Rep. Wayne Harper, a former city community development director, with their threats to turn planning and zoning on its head (see October DesNews story). Apparently, much of this is due to Rep. Curtis' dissatisfaction with local planning procedures, particularly because of the way some issues have played out into zoning referenda (and his law firm represents some developers who are caught up in these imbroglios). Hence, the threats to change things.

What we didn't know was how much was just talk, and how much might actually come about.

Well, apparently much is coming about. I have learned that there has been a draft bill produced, for Sen. Al Mansell, that would do much of what Reps. Curtis and Harper talked about in October. The draft bill was shared with only a few people from local government, then pulled back to make more changes, and subsequent work has not been shared.

Also, there has apparently been substantial discussion and debate about defining through legislative action that much of what is done in the land use arena is declared to be "administrative," thus making those items not subject to referendum. Such an action is a two-edged sword, however, as has been discussed in some previous posts on this blog.

Additionally, impact fees are coming under scrutiny again, as a legislative audit is underway, looking at how such fees have been applied and what they are used for. The implication is that there are improper actions taking place with these fees, hence the authority of local government to impose should be rolled back.

So wake up, planners and local government elected officials, the assualt is apparently coming. Vigilant action will be needed on your part to make sure legislators are aware of all the impliccations of what is being proposed.

Stay tuned.

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