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.
Please contact the Ombudsman Office for more information about Advisory Opinions.
Use our search feature to conduct a keyword search of our library of Advisory Opinions.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
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 Ombudsman be contacted prior to requesting an Advisory Opinion to determine if the subject matter and timing of the request are appropriate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.