Policing Bias and Conflicts of Interest in Zoning Decisionmaking
Cordes, Mark W.
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This article will attempt a comprehensive review of the issues involved in policing bias and conflicts of interests in zoning decisionmaking. Part one will briefly discuss the nature of zoning decisionmaking and the value of impartial decisionmakers. Part two will then examine various regulatory sources that might be used to regulate bias and conflicts of interest, focusing on both statutory and nonstatutory grounds. Thereafter, part three will examine the legislative/adjudicative distinction in zoning and argue that the traditional refusal to police conflicts by legislative bodies should be rejected in favor of an approach which allows policing of rezoning decisions. Part four of the article will examine the difficult issue regarding the degree of impartiality that should be required. Recognizing that some bias is inevitable, it will suggest that the basic values served by impartiality, together with pragmatic restraints, govern regulation of bias and conflicts of interest. In addition, part four will examine specific types of bias and conflicts of interest in zoning, focusing on financial conflicts, associational conflicts, prejudgment and bias, ex parte contracts, and campaign contributions. Finally, part five of the article will discuss enforcement procedures and remedies when conflicts arise. It will examine what action is required of zoning decisionmakers when an impermissible conflict exists and what judicial remedies should be available when a decision has been made in the face of an impermissible conflict.