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Thread: Dept. of Justice investigation re: land use choices/decisions?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian WhenIGrowUp's avatar
    Dec 2006

    Dept. of Justice investigation re: land use choices/decisions?

    I put this in LU & Z because I think it's most closely related to land use policies and actions.

    Let's say your community undertakes an imprudent development/zoning action. Either an exclusionary zoning/re-zoning action, or a discriminatory action against one group because of the nature or character or that group, something... anything. And that act runs afoul of the US Department of Justice, and you're informed that the DOJ is investigating this action.

    I know this is a very broad question, but what's the consequence, or potential consequence, of that investigation? If you are found to have violated the Civil Rights Act, or committed some other unjust activity, what will the result be to your town?

    Sanctions? Fine? Other penalty? Reverse & remand? Loss of local authority?

    I've never been a party to such an action, but I've read about them happening. Does anyone here have any knowledge of what goes on in such a situation?
    "We are not going to have public meetings to review architecture. Public input ruins the idea of professional review." -Design Review Committee Chairman, 11/04/09

  2. #2
    Oct 2011
    Portland, ME
    Interesting question - Invalidation of the ordinance at least. Beyond that it’s a good question. I think then the question is, how did it come about? Was it intentional or just an incidental effect? Individuals will be free from liability if acting in accordance with official duties, unless acting outside the scope of their employment for the city (which, given the legal nature of this question, the municipal legislative process required to make a law, and the fact that staff/council exist to make laws is probably an impossible finding here). The power of the City probably couldn’t be taken away, because that power is state delegated (municipalities are creatures of state law), and states and the central government are separate sovereign entities (albeit operating in federal tandem). This is an interesting question and one I don’t have an exact answer to without looking into and/or thinking about it further, but these are my preliminary off-the-cuff thoughts.

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