Navigating Rough Seas: Qualified Crew Required

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In the vast seas of land use planning, where development and management aspects form the waves that shape a community’s future, the staff of a county or municipality’s planning department often assume the role of captain at the helm. These dedicated individuals navigate the complexities of community development, steering the proverbial ship through the challenges of regulatory waters, intricate land use matters, and often unpredictable currents of a community’s dynamics. 

Beyond the humor that might accompany the maritime analogy in this blog, securing a crew of qualified staff is no longer a mere choice.   It has become a necessity to ensure jurisdictional stability and success.  The skills and knowledge these individuals bring to the helm are like a compass, guiding the community toward well-charted and successful territories. In the realm of regulatory channels, where legal intricacies can be as treacherous as hidden rocks, these qualified professionals also serve as adept navigators, ensuring compliance and avoiding potential legal storms.

Land use matters, similar to the diverse landscapes beneath the sea, demand a nuanced understanding. Qualified staff, with their specific expertise, become interpreters of this complex terrain. They assess the lay of the land, whether it be residential, commercial, or industrial, and strategically plan for its best use. Like skilled cartographers, they create maps that guide the community toward sustainable development, balancing the needs of today with the aspirations for the future.

However, the journey through these planning waters is not just about regulations and land use.  It’s also about navigating the unpredictable currents of community dynamics. Political tides can ebb and flow, and social currents may change direction. Qualified staff can act as astute helmsmen, steering the ship through these waters with a deep understanding of the community’s needs, aspirations, and sensitivities.

One such example of this is the administrative land use authority provisions that were enacted during the 2023 General Session by the Utah State Legislature in S.B, 174.  S.B. 174 among many things, mandates the use of an administrative land use authority, which specifically excludes a jurisdiction’s legislative body, for subdivision review and approvals for single-family dwellings, two-family dwellings, and townhome applications.  While S.B. 174 does allow for jurisdictions to still utilize their Planning Commissions to fulfill the role of administrative land use authority, there are several inferences contained within the new regulations which point to the ultimate desires of the State Legislature for jurisdictions to begin using their staff to fulfill the new role.

In the face of these types of challenges, the necessity of qualified staff in a municipality or county’s planning department is becoming more and more crystal clear. It is not just about steering through the rough seas.  It’s about doing so with a crew that understands the nuances of the map, the intricacies of the legal waters, and the ever-changing dynamics of the community who can recognize when to steer clear of the whale’s mouth.

Need Advice?

Call Rural Community Consultants today to get expert advice and guidance on developing or updating your community’s subdivision processes today.

Want to Learn More?

Check out our online training modules here! Note:  civiclinQ is able to provide access to specific land use training modules free of charge courtesy of the Utah Office of the Property Rights Ombudsman.

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