Fairness in land use applications
Under Colorado law, Town Council members are prohibited from expressing an opinion on land use applications prior to public hearings about the application. At the public hearing, Town Council is provided professional assessments and recommendations from Town Staff as well as the advisory recommendations from the Planning Commission, as well as taking public comment on the application.
Town Council acts on applications for land use approvals related to specific properties or developments. The type of review and decision-making by the local governing body is considered “quasi-judicial.”
As suggested by the term, Council is sitting somewhat in the capacity as a judge, or trier of fact, in that the Council is passing upon the merits of an application considering defined criteria for approval.
In these types of circumstances, Council is required to undertake a review in an objective fashion based upon the facts and circumstances brought to the attention of the Council in the hearing process. In an effort to ensure matters are properly considered, local bodies are generally prohibited from engaging in discussion outside of the hearing of any pending land use application or any application in which the local governing body sits in its quasi-judicial capacity.