Land Use Dispute Resolution
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a way for parties to work through and resolve problems, conflicts, and disputes short of litigation. Formal dispute resolution can take several forms, the most common being mediation.
Mediation is an informal, yet structured process in which a neutral third person (or persons), known as a mediator, helps parties to reach a mutually acceptable solution to issues that are causing conflict between them. All parties to the dispute are given a full opportunity to be heard and to share their perspectives on the situation. The mediator summarizes the information shared by each party and assists the parties in defining the issues in dispute. The mediator does not decide how the dispute should be resolved, but instead guides the parties through a process in which they discuss the issues, generate options for resolving the dispute, and design their agreement. Mediations can result in a resolution reached in an hour or two or can involve multiple sessions and occur over a period of several months. Mediation solutions are non-binding.
Please note that the Department of Local Affairs does not advocate for any specific dispute resolution process. It is the department’s belief that local governments must determine for themselves what process will be most beneficial and productive in the resolution of their land use conflicts.
How Does a Local Government Initiate Alternative Dispute Resolution?
Under state law, all counties and municipalities are able to request dispute resolution of neighboring jurisdictions if they have filed formal objections to that jurisdiction’s comprehensive plan or amendment thereto. The county or municipality whose comprehensive plan is being objected to must participate in dispute resolution if it is requested under the new statute (CRS 24-32-3209, et seq.). The jurisdiction requesting dispute resolution is responsible for the costs of the mediator’s services, unless some other cost sharing agreement can be reached.
While the Intergovernmental Land Use Dispute Resolution Program is specifically aimed at negotiating settlements over land use disputes, the list of qualified dispute resolution professionals may also be accessed and utilized for any number of local government disputes.
Other than creating, maintaining and promoting the availability of the list of qualified professionals, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs will not serve as a broker of services, nor will the aforementioned entity endorse, recommend or in any other fashion influence the negotiation for services between qualified professionals and local governments. Local government officials and staff are urged to verify the qualifications and experience of potential dispute resolution professionals during the selection process.