Can Dollars and Cents Mitigate Development Impacts?

Elegant is not a word one generally associates with land use law. For instance, in attempting to mitigate the effects a given project has on neighbors and other stakeholders, many planning commissions have spent many a late (late) night attempting to divine whether a given project is “timely” or “reasonably compatible” with neighboring uses. Typically, conditions of approval are slathered on what was originally proposed and, more often than not, these conditions go a Texas-mile further than the applicant ever expected and not nearly far enough for those impacted by the development. Basically, everyone leaves unsatisfied. What if the subjective process of balancing these competing interests were jettisoned in favor of a simpler, bottom-line approach to mitigating the impacts of development? A recent article in the Economist newspaper asks this question. It is an interesting read and we would love to hear your thoughts on it. Could it be done, and if so, should it? Send us your thoughts in the "Contact Us" form in the bar to the left.

Proposed SEC Rule Could Affect Municipal Officials

The Securities and Exchange Commission is proposing a new rule that could require certain municipal officials to register as “municipal advisors” prior to the issuance of bonds or other debt instruments.  The Dodd-Frank Act requires the SEC to regulate and require the registration of persons who advise municipalities on the incursion of debt.  As currently drafted, the rule would exempt “municipal employees,” which would include not only staff but elected officials as well.  However, the definition of a “municipal employee” would not cover appointed officials under the existing draft of the rule.  Appointed members of utility boards and commissions, as well as officials appointed to urban renewal boards, would likely be subject to the registration requirement if the definition is not ultimately amended. Various municipal advocacy groups will submit comments on the proposed rule and will urge the SEC to include exempt appointed officials as well.  Comments are due on February 22, 2011.  Look for updates on this issue in the weeks and months ahead.