Rules of public fairness extend to property

Aug 1 2013 - 6:44pm


... nor shall any State deprive any person of life liberty, or property, without due process of law ...

-- Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

 The key to effective local government action is the participation of the citizens. Government in the United States exists by the consent of the governed. As a result, meaningful citizen participation is essential to a democratic institution.

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution guarantee every citizen due process of law. This pledge assures that the laws affecting individual lives and property are not unreasonable, random or impulsive. When laws affect life, liberty or property, the principle of due process requires that each citizen so affected is entitled to timely notice of the actions or procedures that will be taking place, and to an opportunity to be heard in an orderly, unbiased proceeding, suited to the nature of the matter at issue.

Basically, due process means fairness.

A variety of laws govern the use and development of land. One of the important rights associated with ownership of property is the ability to adapt or develop it for some profitable or desirable use. Development and use of property drives economic growth and contributes to the public welfare. Regulation of land development seeks to promote responsible and productive property use.

All property is subject to reasonable control and regulation by government entities. Local governments regulate the uses and improvements of property to protect and promote the health, safety and welfare of the public. Proper zoning ordinances promote economic growth and help maintain strong and vibrant communities.

These zoning ordinances may provide for zoning districts of any number, shape and area that a city's planning commission recommends and the city council finds appropriate.

Within these zoning districts, the ordinance may regulate and restrict the erection, construction, repair, use of building structures and the use of land. The city council must ensure that the regulations are uniform for each class or kind of building throughout each district even though the regulations in one district may differ from those in another.

Government's role should be as a facilitator of the private sector, not as a real estate broker. What develops on private property is in the hands of the land owner as long as they are in compliance to the general plan. The conscientious use of property cannot be ignored along with the fact that the republic we live in guarantees property rights that have to be recognized and protected.

In Layton, for example, there are approximately 25 acres of commercially zoned land abutting Gentile Street and Fort Lane that sits mostly vacant. It is privately owned and will be privately developed within the confines of the law.

Steve Curtis has worked as a business consultant and communication specialist. He is currently mayor of Layton. He can be reached at

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