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Module 2: Spatial Analysis and Urban Land Planning

Implementation of Urban Planning: Zoning and

Subdivision Regulations

Stuart Meck, FAICP Senior Research Fellow American Planning Association

Legal Authority for Zoning in the U.S.

  • The Standard State Zoning Enabling Act

  • The Standard City Planning Enabling Act

  • State enabling legislation

  • Other authorityMunicipal charters

Problems with Early Zoning Legislation

  • Urban and local orientation

  • Static view of municipal development

  • A process orientation

  • Optional plan-making

The Zoning

Ordinance: Zoning


The Zoning Ordinance: Zoning Map

The Zoning Ordinance

  • District Regulations

Yards Height Bulk or Floor Area Ratio Maximum lot coverage Maximum impervious surface ratio

Floor Area Ratios

Floor Area Ratios

Other Regulations

  • Accessory structures and uses

  • Landscaping

  • Off-street parking and loading

  • Home occupations

  • Conditional uses

  • Signs

Off-street Parking Standards

Nonconforming Uses

  • Definition

  • Nuisance

  • Lawfully established

  • Vesting

  • Amortization


  • Zoning and Building Permits

  • Completeness Reviews

  • Enforcement Procedures AdministrativeStop work Criminal Injunctions

Board of Zoning Appeals

  • Structure and organization

  • Powers Variances Conditional Uses

Appeals of interpretations, permit refusals

  • Alternative: Hearing examiner

Zoning Map and Text Amendments

  • Purposes Piecemeal amendments Comprehensive amendments

  • Map amendment

  • Consistency with comprehensive plan Density and intensity, compatibility Interpretation of plan text Proposed public improvements



  • Purposes

  • Legal authority

  • Contents Submission requirements Design standards Engineering Standards Erosion and sedimentation control



Subdivision Regulation

Subdivision Review Procedure

  • Preapplication conference

  • Preliminary plat review

  • Final plat review

  • Public improvement guarantees

  • Time limits

  • Exactions & fees in lieu Parks & school sites Storm drainage

Planned Unit Development

Urban Growth Boundary

Urban Growth Boundary

Transfer of Development Rights

Transfer of Development Rights

Density Bonus

Other Techniques

  • Adequate public facility ordinances

  • Impact fees

  • Exclusive farmland districts

  • Traditional neighborhood development zones

  • Overlay districts Critical and sensitive areas Floodplain zoning

Current Problems in Land-use Controls

  • Exclusionary zoning

  • Takings

  • Bureaucracy

  • Timeliness of reviews

  • Coordination among governmental units

  • Gold-plating of development standards

  • Lack of clear authority for certain