"As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights."
-- James Madison
Contained in the Utah Municipal Land Use and Development Act are specific statutory rights that pertain to landowners, or applicants requesting development approval. Commonly referred to as a landowner's "bill of rights," these civil liberties have been well thought out when it comes to applications to develop land.
An applicant is entitled to have his or her application approved if the request conforms to the requirements of city ordinances in effect on the day a completed application is submitted and all fees are paid (Utah Code 10-9a-509). The intent of this is to freeze the applicant's rights in the ordinances that exist when the application is filed, and to clarify that approval of a complaint application is mandatory and not optional by the city.
An application for a land-use development approval is entitled to a reasonably quick determination if the application is complete.
After waiting a reasonable time, the applicant can request in writing a determination of the completeness of the application, and the city must respond within 30 days by either saying the application is complete or explaining if it is deficient (Utah Code 10-9a-509.5).
In addition, an applicant has the right to a reasonably quick decision on his or her completed application and can, after a reasonable time, request the decision in writing . The city must then process the application within 45 days of the written request.
The purpose of these provisions is to force the governing body to process the applications in a timely manner.
An applicant for the subdivision of property has the right to approval of the subdivision if the application meets city ordinances (Utah Code 10-9a-603(2)). A landowner's application to subdivide property should not be treated by the city as a request for permission, but as a request for the policy on how to do it. It is not discretionary with the city on whether a landowner has the ability to subdivide.
All applicants for land-use development approval must be provided with the right to appeal the final decision of the land-use authority and the right to appeal any interpretation of municipal land-use ordinances (Utah Code 10-9a-701).
This requires the city to designate, in ordinance, one or more appeal authorities to decide these issues.
The intent of this is to provide the applicant with a way to have a fair, impartial review of any land-use decision, with full rights of due process, at the municipal level, without having to go to court to get it.
Steve Curtis has worked as a business consultant and communication specialist. He is currently mayor of Layton. He can be reached at email@example.com.