NOTE: This summary is very simplified, and is provided for informational purposes. Any questions on this topic should be directed to The Office of the Property Rights Ombudsman.
What is LUDMA?
LUDMA is the acronym for the Land Use, Development, and Management Act. There are two versions, one for Municipalities (MLUDMA), found at Title 10, chapter 9a of the Utah Code, and the other for Counties (CLUDMA), found at Title 17, chapter 27a. The two acts are nearly identical, with only a few differences.
What Does LUDMA Do?
LUDMA authorizes and governs land use and zoning regulation by cities and counties, and establishes mandatory requirements that local governments must follow. LUDMA establishes the legal framework for each locality to make zoning decisions, enact ordinances, and implement plans.
Although local governments have fairly broad discretion to make land use decisions, LUDMA is the controlling language, and localities must comply with its requirements, and with the zoning ordinances adopted under LUDMA authority.
What are some of LUDMA’s Mandatory Requirements?
A local government must adopt a “general plan,” which is a general guideline for future development. In addition, local governments must establish planning commissions and appeal authorities. LUDMA also has mandatory notice requirements when planning and zoning decisions are made.
LUDMA requires that local governments allow residential facilities for the disabled or the elderly in any zone that allows residences. Manufactured homes also cannot be excluded from residential zones.
LUDMA also requires that a development application be processed within a reasonable time, and provides that an applicant may request that a final decision be made within 45 days, if a reasonable amount of time has passed. LUDMA establishes legal standards for review of warranty work, and fees charged for development applications.
What is a General Plan?
A General Plan establishes general guidelines for future development and growth. LUDMA requires each city and county to adopt a general plan. A plan not only helps guide future development, but also provides for orderly expansion of utilities and public services. General Plans are usually considered advisory, but compliance may be made mandatory by a local government.
What is an Appeal Authority?
Each city and county must establish an appeal authority to handle zoning-related appeals and to grant variances. An appeal authority may be a board of adjustment, but may also be a hearing officer. Variances and appeal duties may be divided between different appeal authorities. For example, a hearing officer could consider all appeals, while a board of adjustment considers variance requests.
What is a Reasonable Time to Process an Application?
LUDMA requires that a local government act on development applications within a reasonable time. The amount of time that is reasonable depends upon such things as the type of application, the size of the proposed development, the number of other applications, and the resources of the local government.
A local government must first determine if an application is complete and ready for further consideration. LUDMA provides that a decision on completeness be made within a reasonable time after the application is filed. If the application is found to be incomplete, the local government must explain what information is necessary to make the application complete.
After a reasonable amount of time has passed without a determination, an applicant may request a decision on the application’s completeness be made within 30 days. If the local government does not act within 30 days, the application is considered complete and ready for further consideration.
A final decision on the application must also be made within a reasonable time. If action is not taken in within a reasonable time, an applicant may request that a decision be made within 45 days.
What Public Improvement Warranties May be Required?
Public improvements, such as roads or sidewalks, constructed along with a new development, may be subject to warranties required by the local government. LUDMA allows local government to require bonds or other guarantees to ensure that public improvements are completed and meet minimum quality standards. Before the work is accepted by the local government, it may be inspected, and any objections or problems described comprehensively and with specificity.
How Much May a Local Government Charge to Review Applications?
Local governments may charge reasonable review or application fees to process development applications. The fees must be justifiable as the reasonable cost to process the application. LUDMA requires that the fees to approve plans for a building be either the reasonable cost to process the application, or 65% of the amount charged for a building permit, whichever is less. An applicant may request that fees be itemized to show how they were calculated.
Tooele Associates, LP v. Tooele City–Discusses validity of local government’s inspection fees
What if a Local Government Does not Follow LUDMA Requirements?
Local governments must follow LUDMA’s mandatory requirements. An applicant may resort to a lawsuit to force compliance or implement the remedies provided in LUDMA. If an action is taken and required notice to the public or affected landowners is not properly made, the action may be voided by a court.
Cases Referring to LUDMA
Hatch v. Boulder Town–Authority to enact zoning ordinances