February 8, 2012

Property rights trump ambiguous rules, that much is clear

By Brian T. Hodges Senior Attorney

Thanks to The Urban Lawyer (Vol. 43, No. 4) for publishing my article, Tie Goes to the Landowner: Ambiguous Zoning Ordinances and the Strict Construction Rule.  The article describes the evolution of the “strict construction rule,” which provides that ambiguous zoning ordinances must be strictly construed in favor of property owners.  By focusing on Washington cases, I show how the strict construction rule rose to prominence in the 1950s, retreated in the 1970s, and may be making a comeback as a guide star for resolving complex land use cases in our current era of increasingly comprehensive planning and zoning.  Check it out!

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