Friday, September 9, 2011

anti-variance bias

Usually, I don’t think the casebooks I use are biased (at least not in a “Democrat vs. Republican” way) – but every so often I see something that gives me pause. In discussing zoning variances, my Property casebook (Dukeminier) writes that although issuance of zoning variances is reversed more often than denial, “This is not to say that variance administration is policed as closely as it should be.” The book then adds that “Illegal issuance [of variances] is a widespread phenomenon nationwide.”

Assuming for the sake of argument that cities are more lenient in granting variances than black-letter law might suggest, I am not sure that it is necessarily a bad thing. Maybe the zoning ordinance makes no sense, or allowing a minor deviation would be harmless in the situation at issue. But the casebook does not seem to share my point of view.

Why not? Perhaps a bias in favor of government regulation. But more likely, I think, a quite understandable “rule of law” bias in favor of cities following their own rules. The authors seem to think that the rules may be stupid, but as long as they are there they should be followed.

Michael Lewyn

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/land_use/2011/09/anti-variance-bias.html

Local Government, Teaching, Zoning | Permalink

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