Issues in Land Use Law & Zoning

A Quick Look at Downzoning

May 20th, 2014

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Consider the following scenario: newly elected Village officials decide to implement policies to encourage more environmentally friendly practices. In doing so, they examine the local zoning ordinance and direct the plan commission to consider whether certain areas of the village should be “down zoned.” Downzoning, they claim, by reducing density, may mitigate congestion, lessen pollution, and provide for a better quality of life for residents. But downzoning can raise challenging issues and concerns.

One major problem is that when an area is “down zoned,” the result to property owners is a reduction of density or limitation of uses. Some property owners may complain that their investment has been made worthless or that that a planned project can no longer succeed (at lower densities). In addition, downzoning may create numerous non-conforming uses, not to mention loss of property value and resulting decreased tax revenue to the municipality.

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