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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Article Summarizes Recent Cases in Ethics and Land Use

Municipal planning and zoning officials, as well as those who advise municipalities on land use issues, should read the following article concerning ethics and land use:  "Failure to Articulate Clear Ethics Rules and Standards and the Local Level Continues to Haunt Local Land Use Decision Makers," written by Patty Salkin, Professor at the Albany Law School, and published in the summer 2011 edition of The Urban Lawyer

The article provides an annual review of reported decisions addressing ethical considerations that arise in the land use context for lawyers, planners, board members, and other stakeholders in the land use decision-making process, including conflicts of interest, bias, and ex parte communications.  The article discusses a number of real-life examples of ethical situations faced by land use professionals, including planning board members who also work as developers in their municipality, land use attorneys who "change sides" from representing the municipality to representing developers who appear before the municipality, and allegations of bias of municipal officials who showed disinterest, rolled their eyes, whispered, and laughed during an applicant's presentation.  Not that this last situation would ever happen in any of our readers' municipalities. 

To find out how the courts ruled on these three situations, and to read about other decisions in the ethics and land use area, you should check out Patty's article.


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