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Authors

James C. Quinn

Abstract

The zoning power, though based on the police power of the states, has traditionally been granted to local communities through various state enabling statutes. These enabling statutes permit local enactment of zoning ordinances only to the extent that they bear a substantial relation to the "health, safety, morals, or general welfare" of the community. With the migration of middle-class city dwellers to thc suburbs after World War II, zoning has become more than a means of maintaining the proper mix of land-use patterns in a community. Rather, in fear of overly rapid development and irreversible alteration of their community character, towns have utilized the zoning power in an exclusionary fashion by such devices as minimum lot size, lot width, and exclusion of multiple dwellings. The effect of these practices is essentially cumulative and has added to the already serious housing problem. If one town zones in an exclusionary manner, the effect on surrounding communities is negligible. However, where many do so, the effects are substantial, causing an increase in the price of suburban housing and a decrease in the amount of such housing available to low- and middle-income persons. In recent years, several constitutional and common law arguments have been directed at exclusionary zoning. No argument has been met with consistent acceptance and thus exclusionary zoning remains a very unsettled area of the law. In recent years, there has been a marked contrast in the decisions reached in state and federal courts in exclusionary zoning cases. This Note will examine recent judicial approaches to the exclusionary zoning problem and attempt to delineate the proper function of the courts in this area.

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Land Use Law Commons

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