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Ethical considerations in the land use decision making process can be organized into a number of categories, including, first and foremost, the broad subject of conflicts of interest.1 Players in the land use game can find themselves in real or perceived conflicts situations based on personal financial interests resulting from investments, including businesses and real estate holdings (such as the location of their property vis-à-vis the location of the subject property before the Board), employment for themselves or members of their immediate family, and memberships in nonprofit organizations that may be either passive or active (e.g., simply dues paying member or officer or other volunteer engagement). Other relationships may be problematic, such as private relationships that typically have a shield of confidentiality, such as the lawyer-client relationship or the doctor-patient relationship. This could also extend to members of the clergy who appear before boards where their followers serve as members. This article discusses ethics issues that arise because of various personal relationships between members of land use boards, applicants and other stakeholders. Of course, disclosure of relationships that could be viewed as potential conflicts is always advisable, and the discussion of whether or not such disclosure necessitates a recusal may at times warrant discussion with board counsel.

Source Publication

Zoning and Planning Law Report