Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Land Use Follies

In the last session, the Legislature in its infinite wisdom passed SB53, restricting challenges to land use decisions. The Legislature itself isn't too clear about what it passed. Sen. Brent Goodfellow of West Valley claims it's just a clarifying amendment; noted land use attorney Jeff Owens of Strong & Hanni says, "Bollocks." I agree with Jeff. What the new law does is effectively freeze the public out of what ought to be a public decision-making process. The law was obviously written to preclude a public outcry such as delayed Walmart's Sandy Gravel Pit development from ever happening again. Given the power real estate developers have in the Legislature, SB53 should come as no surprise, but one may still fairly ask if it's a good idea. Given the power large landholders are permitted to exercise at public expense (currently being highlighted by the State's complicity in Kennecott's cover-up of the weakness of the retaining walls of its holding ponds), land use decisions need more sunshine and public participation, not less.


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