2009 August 14 Managing Landfills, Gravel Pits, Strip Clubs and Other "LULUs" In A Down Economy
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Landfills, junk yards, gravel pits, and sex shops are not the types of development communities typically want to attract.

But turning away these Locally Undesirable Land Uses – or LULUs – is never a simple matter, and is particularly tricky in a down economy. While gravel pits, landfills, and junk yards are typically undesirable locally, they can be highly profitable and fulfill an important community function. Because of that, state and federal law often limits the ability of local governments to regulate these uses. In addition, in a difficult economy, local officials may feel pressure to permit almost ANY investment to preserve funding for local services.

Dealing with LULUs requires skilled balancing of the community’s short-term challenges against long-term values, as well as the rights and needs of property owners against negative community impacts. Missteps can saddle a community with costly lawsuits, damaging publicity and a long legacy of unwanted land uses.

Here are some tips to prepare your community for LULU inquiries:
  • Zone Now: Don’t wait for an application to decide your policy. Be sure your planning and zoning addresses LULUs ahead of time to ensure strong standing later.
  • Don’t cut and paste: Too often communities “borrow” regulations from another community without spelling out legislative intent and land use interests specific to their own community.
  • Expect a high level of scrutiny: Because of the money at stake, LULU debates can attract significant media and public interest. Be sure your decision-making process and resulting regulations can be publicly defended.
  • Aim for clear and consistent regulations: The most successful regulations have clear and detailed procedures, criteria, and time limits.
  • Recognize what’s at stake: Even for relatively small projects, the costs associated with LULU applications can be exorbitantly expensive if mishandled. Treat applications with care.
  • Consider getting help: LULU applicants are usually extremely familiar with relevant laws and processes. Consider contacting professionals to balance the playing field.

McKenna is the leader in helping communities plan, create, and execute LULU regulations that reflect the local community’s values, all within the context of fiscal realities and state and federal requirements. Most importantly, if need be, McKenna’s court-tested professionals can work with your legal counsel to defend your decisions before citizens, business-owners, and the courts.

For more on how McKenna can help you address an undesirable land use, email Amy Chesnut at achesnut@mcka.com or call toll-free at 888.226.4326.