Rules of Procedure
In order to operate effectively, HDCs and HPCs need to consider all applications fairly and consistently. It is critical to provide members with the training and information that will enable them to make defensible decisions that serve the interests of the community.
Making defensible decisions is rooted first in a faithful adherence to, and application of,the laws. If a property owner can demonstrate that an HDC or HPC failed to comply with public meeting laws (failing to post legal notice in the appropriate amount of time before a hearing, for example) or even with its own internal rules of procedure, the decisions rendered can be challenged and reviewed by the Superior Court.
Defensible decisions also require sound and reasoned judgment on applications with respect for the law and knowledge of the issues. In order to avoid a legal challenge, an HDC or HPC must be able to present the reasons for its determination and show how its determination is consistent with prior decisions and with the body’s purpose as a whole.
This section outlines the basic requirements for administration of an HDC or HPC and the process of reviewing applications for certificates of appropriateness. Specific questions regarding the interpretation of the enabling statute or the Freedom of Information Act should be directed to the municipal attorney.