Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Bad Precedent

Today, the ACHD Commission set a bad precedent on a 4-1 vote and did so without even discussing its ramifications, in fact, I'm sure the future ramifications of this did not even enter into anyone's mind.

The issue involved a developer who was appealing a staff level decision to move power poles back from the right of way in their development. The time frame for appeal is 10 days. This developer wanted us to waive the time frame. Stunningly, the original staff decision was almost THREE years ago and in the interim they have had numerous meetings with staff.

The reasons they gave for wanting the waiver was, they were new developers, they didn't know about the appeal time frame, they didn't know they could appeal and (I suspect most importantly) the cost of moving the power poles. However, a statement of appeal rights is included with every permission, not only at ACHD but by any government jurisdiction. The developer may be inexperienced, but they also failed to read the information given to them.

But the majority of the Commission "wanted to give a second chance" and to appear magnanimous. Being magnanimous can be a good thing and something that has quite frankly been missing from a lot of their treatment of citizens in the past.

In and of itself, this may not be a big deal. However, what if another developer gets down the road in a development process and decides that they don't want to abide by all the conditions for whatever reason including too expensive. Are we then going to deny their wanting to waive the time frame for appeal and if so, on what possible grounds? That they are not a first time developer? That the cost of the condition is too expensive? And if we say no and this developer wants to push it and takes ACHD to court, then we've set up a situation to pay large legal fees.

I suspect that in the end the developer's appeal will not be sustained. But that doesn't mean we made a big mistake today and one that won't come back to haunt ACHD. And yes, the one vote was me.


At May 21, 2009 at 2:44 PM , Blogger Bikeboy said...

Sara - ya dun good!

There is a very real perception - justified or not - that the developers are the "movers and shakers" in the local government scheme of things. That elected officials and bureaucrats alike are ready to jump at the developers' command. And that GROWTH is the single most significant factor in every decision made.

I'd much rather see common ordinary taxpaying citizens get the occasional pass for not understanding the rules and regulations. If you do "it" for a living, you should understand the rules that accompany "it," whatever "it" happens to be. In this case, development appeal deadlines and such, for developers.


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