MORGAN -- County officials are considering changing the way decisions made by the Morgan County Council are appealed.
The chairman of the county's board of appeals recently wrote the council regarding concerns with the current appeals system, calling for a hearing officer rather than a board of appeals.
"In the short time I have served on the board, it has become very apparent to me that the system as it is currently organized has serious flaws," according to a letter from Board of Appeals Chairman Brad Richards. "Although the BOA was originally designed to hear appeals to County Council decisions when there are clear-cut abuses of power or egregious errors, in practice it has become a court of 'second opinion,' where all comers can get any decision made by the County Council reversed for a moderate fee and a few hours of their time."
Currently, the board of appeals has four members and one alternate. It has unsuccessfully been advertising an opening for a second alternate for months.
The unfilled position has made it difficult to convene a quorum lately.
Although the five volunteers are dedicated, honest and hardworking, the positions should require more formal land-use law training, Richards said.
"Since the basic purpose of an appeals board is to examine the decisions made by the County Council in light of current land use law and recent Utah Supreme Court decisions, it stands to reason that it is essential for any board member to have a fairly extensive knowledge of the applicable statutes and land-use law in order to do his job," Richards said.
Richards recommended changing the current appeals system to a system with a hearing officer who could review cases of appeal or variance requests.
Applicants also should be allowed to appeal to district court, he said.
"In this way, the decisions of appeal will be made by professionals who are trained in land use law rather than left to the vagaries of well intentioned amateurs like myself," he said.
Morgan County Council Sid Creager forwarded Richard's letter to the planning commission for review.