About Advisory Opinions

As a means of resolving land use disputes, the Office of the Property Rights Ombudsman is authorized to issue Advisory Opinions, or written legal analyses of land use questions.  An Advisory Opinion thoroughly evaluates the facts, and reaches a legal conclusion based on an application of existing laws.

Old Lawbooks

Please contact the Ombudsman Office for more information about Advisory Opinions.

To view Advisory Opinions, refer to the “Advisory Opinions” tab.

Use the search bar above this page to conduct a keyword search of our library of Advisory Opinions.

What is an Advisory Opinion?

An Advisory Opinion is a legal analysis of a specific land use question, evaluating facts presented by the parties. The Utah Legislature created the Advisory Opinion process to promote the resolution of land use disputes without resorting to costly, stressful, and time-consuming litigation.

Who May Request an Advisory Opinion?

Property owners, developers, government agencies, and other parties potentially aggrieved by a land use decision or dispute may request an Advisory Opinion. Please contact our office to discuss whether an Advisory Opinion would be appropriate.

Are There any Limits to Topics Covered by an Advisory Opinion?

Advisory Opinions are limited to the topics listed in § 13-43-205 of the Utah Code. The Office may not issue opinions on subjects not included in that statute.

What Topics May be Addressed in an Advisory Opinion?

Please see Advisory Opinion Topics Explained for information about Advisory Opinion Topics.

How do I Request an Advisory Opinion?

Simply fill out the Advisory Opinion request form found at the link on the top of this page, and send it to the Ombudsman along with any supporting documents. The Utah Legislature requires a $150 filing fee for each Opinion. It is suggested that the Ombudmsan be contacted prior to requesting  an Advisory Opinion to determine if the subject matter and timing of the request are appropriate.

When May I Request an Advisory Opinion?

An Advisory Opinion may be requested at any time before a final decision on a land use application by a local appeal authority, or if no local appeal authority is designated to hear the issue, at any time before the deadline for filing an appeal with the district court. If an Opinion is requested after these cut-off dates, state law mandates that one is no longer available.

Who Prepares Advisory Opinions?

Advisory Opinions are prepared by a neutral party. Most often the opinions are prepared by the staff attorneys in the Ombudsman’s Office. However, either party may request that an outside attorney prepare the Opinion. When that happens, the Ombudsman appoints a third-party neutral that is acceptable to all parties. If the parties cannot agree upon a attorney to prepare the Advisory Opinion, the Ombudsman will determine who will write the Opinion.

Will an Advisory Opinion Cost me Anything?

State law requires a filing fee of $150 for an Advisory Opinion. If an Ombudsman staff attorney prepares the Opinion, there is no further cost to the parties. If either party requests an outside professional to prepare the Advisory Opinion, the parties must each pay half of the professional’s fees.

What Happens After I Submit my Request for an Advisory Opinion?

Upon receipt of a complete request for an Advisory Opinion and the $150 filing fee, the Ombudsman Office will send the request to all necessary parties. Within four business days after receipt of the request, the parties are asked to contact the Ombudsman to discuss appointment of a neutral professional, and to discuss any responses to the request.

Is an Advisory Opinion Conclusion Binding?

Advisory Opinions are not binding on either party and are offered to help the parties resolve disputes. The Ombudsman Office makes every effort to ensure that Advisory Opinions accurately state the laws that apply to the factual situation. A party that does not agree with an Opinion’s conclusions may contact the Ombudsman to discuss the matter further.

May an Advisory Opinion be Used as Evidence in Court?

An Advisory Opinion may not be used as evidence in a legal proceeding and is not precedent. It may, however, be used as a basis for awarding certain legal fees. If the same issue that is the subject of an Advisory Opinion is listed as a cause of action in litigation, and the court resolves that cause of action in the same manner as the Opinion, then the party that prevails in court may be awarded certain reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs relating to that cause of action.

Will a Local Land Use Application or Decision be Delayed Pending Completion of an Advisory Opinion?

The Advisory Opinion process does not delay the review or processing of a land use application, other local government land use proceedings, or any appeal deadlines.