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Zoning and Mineral Development: How to Obtain a Conditional Use Permit and What to Do if a Permit is Denied

Jerry R. Fish, Rights of Access and Surface Use (1984)

Zoning and land use planning have long been the nemesis of mineral extraction industries within urban areas. However, until the last twenty years mineral operators were relatively free from zoning restraints in the rural portions of sparsely populated western counties. That has changed. Many counties are imposing development controls on every acre of land, whether populated or remote, fertile or barren. Increasingly, cities are reaching beyond their borders to control development. What began as urban attempts to abate nuisances has grown into a comprehensive land use planning ethic. City and county governing bodies, with or without binding statutory guidelines, and with or without professional help, are attempting to chart the economic future for all of the land.

This paper will examine modern zoning and land use planning as it affects mineral development from three perspectives. First, the evolution of zoning and its constitutional and statutory bases will be set forth briefly. Second, procedural tips to help obtain a conditional use permit for mineral development will be presented. Third, the paper will survey recent zoning decisions affecting mineral development to see what legal tools are available to the attorney whose client has been denied a conditional use permit.1