After reading the advisory report from Milton’s Planning and Zoning Committee on Proposed Appeals Legislation due to be presented to the City Council on Monday November 1st, I would like to share some of my many concerns. I am not a lawyer and I do not pretend to be a legal scholar, but I am a concerned resident who has great caution about what is suggested.
• What does it cost a resident who seriously believes there has been a violation of the law and loses appeal? Under the proposed legislation, if a non-poor resident appeals, the complainant must first pay a filing fee of $ 400 and then deposit an escrow amount from $ 1,000 up to an indefinite amount.
“Unless the complainant is the winning party in the complaint, the complainant is responsible for reimbursing the city for all costs incurred by the city in connection with the complaint for engineering fees, attorneys’ fees, transcription costs and any other professional fees the city incurs , arise city as a result of vocation; the reimbursement obligation must not exceed the amount of the trust account, which is stipulated in the currently valid schedule of fees of the city of Milton. ”If you look at the schedule of fees, you will find the following on the last page in very small print!
“The city may, in its sole discretion, increase the initial escrow funds required after reviewing the application and determining that the particular application is likely to significantly exceed the standard initial escrow amount.”
Who is the city you can ask? Good question because no one I’ve spoken to can tell me. I suppose it must be the mayor’s office who sees him sitting upstairs. So here we have an unnamed person who is dictating an unlimited amount that a resident must put up to receive the benefits that the first change guarantees every citizen.
• Why was the planning and development tasked with drawing up an expert report on such a complicated legal issue?
I have great respect for the hardworking members of the planning and zone commission. This board is probably one of the hardest working boards in our city. Having served on the board, I know how much time it will take. The main tasks of the P&Z are the creation and implementation of the overall plan of our city as well as the review and approval of the site plan.
With all due respect, P&Z members are mostly trained engineers, building experts and specialist planners, but not trained constitutional law experts. One has to wonder why they were hired to draft an opinion for the council and not a constitutional scientist? Many local residents believe that something so important and controversial should have gone before a recognized independent constitutional attorney for expert legal advice and advice.
Legal remedies can be lodged against planning and development decisions! Why were you asked to deliberate on the new law?
• What is “forma pauperis”?
“A complainant can submit a request for continuation in forma pauperis with the complaint.” According to the proposed report by P & Z, residents of forma pauperis can appeal free of charge. What is forma pauperis, you ask? According to Merriam-Webster, the poor “is a person who is destitute except for those who come from a charity. Some synonyms are hobo, poor, tramp, tramp, lapsed, beggar, bum, supplicant, deadbeat. ”
If this law is passed in writing, a city dweller who genuinely believes he has a legitimate complaint against the powers at his disposal can appeal, but if he loses the appeal he is legally obliged to pay everyone’s expense Pay stake unless, of course, you are poor. How many landowning electorate poor do we have in Milton?
• What is a legitimate objection? An appeal is not an opportunity for a resident to contest a decision that they do not make for personal or aesthetic reasons, or for other non-legal reasons. An appeal should only be heard if it is alleged that a previous legal provision has been mistaken, misinterpreted or misapplied. It has been alleged by the mayor that an unnamed former appellant who has lost his appeal has threatened the city with countless frivolous appeals.
“We recently had a calling and the person lost the calling and said that he would appeal at any point in any planning or development, right, wrong, or indifferent.
If our city established a panel of retired attorneys, they could consider any proposed complaint and, after review, either recommend continuing or rejecting it for lack of legal capacity. There is no greater danger to freedom than a government that can interpret and apply laws unsupervised and without accountability to the people. To be effective and fair, the mechanism for such oversight cannot be unduly burdensome. Countless dozen have died to keep the freedoms guaranteed to every American in our constitution, and now Milton residents could be forced to give up some of their rights due to possible financial oppression. What resident who is not poor is likely to risk thousands of dollars asking the government to redress grievances? The proposed significant changes to our city rules regarding appeal fees are very worrying in many ways. Although the desire to save the city’s money is cited as one of the main reasons for the changes, as well as the perceived threat of annoying appeals, I believe this will have a chilling effect on the democratic process and limit the ability of residents to to redress a court decision made by a city official, employee or board member. If an illegal or incorrect decision was made, or a law was misapplied, the entire city would benefit from the appeal. Freedom isn’t free, and some things like honest city government, police protection, and roads … are costs that the whole city has to share.
Let’s hope our city council doesn’t rush this very important law in its current form. This should at least first be checked for constitutionality and fairness by a competent constitutional attorney. Otherwise, the city of Milton could get caught up in a very costly legal battle that everyone undoubtedly wants to avoid. Please come out on November 1st and let your voice be heard.