Let the Courts Guide You: Planning and Zoning Consistency

Zoning Practice — November 2005

By Brian Ohm


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The idea that local land-use decisions should be consistent with an independently adopted local comprehensive plan is a fundamental concept of planning practice. An increasing number of states have adopted legislation requiring consistency between certain land-use regulations, such as zoning and subdivision ordinances, and a local comprehensive plan.

Many states also have adopted legislation that requires other decisions (including sewer extensions, the creation of tax increment finance districts or redevelopment districts, etc.) to be consistent with a comprehensive plan. But more specific guidance for how to apply the legislative requirement for consistency is often left to the determination of the courts.

This issue of Zoning Practice explores some of the case law developed by the courts as they interpret statutory requirements for consistency. It focuses primarily on cases arising in California, Maine, Florida, and Washington.


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Date Published
Nov. 1, 2005
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Brian Ohm
Brian Ohm is a professor in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a planning law specialist with the Division of Extension at the University. He is an attorney and has written numerous publications on various planning law topics and is a frequent presenter on planning law topics at seminars and conferences. Prior to joining the faculty at UW he was an attorney for the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council.