Monday, June 12, 2006

Unfair Housing Suit?

The Federal District Court for Utah ruled recently on the lawsuit filed against Summit County by the law firm of Hutchings, Baird and Jones charging violation of fair housing laws because of the county's policy on zoning. Stories in the DesNews and the Trib summarize the action.

Neil Lindberg, legal committee chair for Utah APA, wrote this brief summary of the case.

"The Federal District Court for Utah has dismissed Anderson Development's proposed class-action lawsuit against Summit County. The suit, which got considerable press coverage when it was filed, alleged housing discrimination in unincorporated Summit County and violation of LUDMA's moderate income housing rules.

"Anderson submitted several 'property plats' to the county but expressly did not request the county to process its submission. Instead letters were submitted which claimed the county's development code was legally defective and unenforceable. The county responded that it had no choice but to enforce the adopted zoning law and offered assistance in understanding the county's planning process. Instead of seeking assistance, however, Anderson filed the complaint alleging the county code violated constitutional and statutory rules and asked the court to invalidate the county's 1998 development code... .

"The court ruled Anderson and other plaintiffs had no standing to bring the suit because 'they have not alleged and cannot prove that the county has utilized the zoning ordinance or other challenged policies to deny andy specific project containing housing which would allegedly benefit [them].' In addition, the court said 'plaintiffs have not demonstrated that it is likely that any alleged housing discrimination injury would be redressed by a favorable decision. They cannot identify any particular housing project that will be built, nor any personal housing benefit they will receive if the court granted their requested relief... .

"Without standing to litigate their claims, the court dismissed the case. A related state court case is still pending."


At 8:05 AM, Blogger James said...

As much as I feel like some some zoning regulations are problematic at times, the approach that Anderson and Co. take is simply shameful. I guess constructive dialogue isn't part of the cirriculum at law school...


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