S 0355 - Land-Use Regulatory Changes
Tracking Level: High

Sponsor: James Bishop
House Committee: RR
Senate Committee: RulesOS
Last Action: 7/11/2019 - Ch. SL 2019-111

Makes significant changes to the process of resolving and litigating land use disputes. Importantly, one of these changes includes an ability for a property owner to bypass the local board of adjustment and file an original action in superior or federal court, for certain types of legal claims. Another change confers standing on various potential plaintiffs, including non-property owners that have executed a private contract giving them an option to purchase the property subject to the disputed development approval. Yet another provision changes the rules of evidence that currently apply to these types of cases. The proposal also eliminates the defense of estoppel for these legal proceedings, which means that a property owner may continue the development process while challenging a local government’s development approval decision, and those actions do not discount the property owner’s arguments in the legal proceeding. Changes the attorney’s fees statute to require an award of attorney’s fees if the local government was found to have “violated a statute or case law setting forth unambiguous limits on its authority,” rather than leaving that decision in the discretion of the court. Proposes exhaustive lists to define the terms “development,” “development approval,” and “land development regulation,” which then apply to various land use statutes. Explicitly creates new vested rights for developers, which entitles them to lock in certain development rules and regulations contained in the applicable development approval. In another change, removes a current provision allowing non-property owners to request a rezoning of parcels, unless all affected landowners give written consent to the request. Also adds language to the current “permit choice” statute to further define the circumstances under which a developer may choose between proceeding under a local government’s old or new zoning or subdivision ordinances, when the development proposal or approval is sought in the midst of an ordinance update.  (First Edition)