Lesson 1 – The Purpose Of Public Notice

Public notice is key to the success of representative government – if people don’t know what’s going on, they can’t participate responsibly. Since the government is doing the public’s business (with the public’s money), it has the responsibility to keep the public in the loop about what’s going on.

Public notice is the main way the government does this. Without providing public notice effectively, “public” meetings would be virtually empty (more so than normal), and no one would know what to think about their local leaders – if they were doing a good job representing the public or acting in their best interest.

While the exact manner in which public notice should be provided varies widely between situations, local government administrators can generally determine if they are on the right track if the community they serve has plenty of opportunities to learn about the big happenings in the county or municipality (opportunities beyond simply knowing that the Council meets once a month).

Utah State Code requires that each municipality provide at least as much notice as outlined in §17-27a-2 and §10-9a-2 (discussed in this module), but counties and municipalities may pass ordinances that require more strict noticing requirements (§10-27a-201 / §10-9a-201). Therefore, county and municipal administrators alike should examine their local ordinances to ensure that their actions are in full compliance with the current law.

When it comes to land use applications, counties and municipalities must provide notice when: 

  • A general plan is being created or updated/modified;
  • Land use regulations are being adopted or amended;
  • A land use application is received by a county or municipality that may adversely affect a high-priority transportation corridor;
  • A subdivision amendment application is proposed, including a proposal to vacate, alter, or amendment a street;
  • A petition is made to vacate a municipal utility easement;
  • A county receives an application for the construction of student housing for a private institute of higher education;
  • An amendment is proposed to the adopted specifications for public improvements that apply to a subdivision or development;
  • A proposal is made to modify signage regulations or a land use application is received requesting modification for an illuminated sign within any unified commercial development.