THE LAW OF ZONING (a/k/a legislative land use controls)
The idea of zoning relates to the laws of nuisance and servitudes in that all three areas involve some exertion of control over the manner in which land may be used. With zoning, the controls usually originate with a legislative body, and the regulations are intended to be both systematic and comprehensive – as opposed to relating to one or two isolated parcels of land. The regulation typically takes place at the county or local level via authorization from the state – with the ultimate authority to regulate derived from the state’s exercise of its police power.
272 U.S. 365 (1926)
[Background: In 1922 the village of Euclid enacted a comprehensive zoning ordinance that divided the city into various use districts, height districts, and area districts. Ambler Realty Co. owned 68 acres of undeveloped land that was zoned in such a way that industrial use (in particular) was precluded. As a result, Ambler’s land was worth only a fourth of what it would bring could all of it be devoted to industrial uses. Ambler thus claimed that the zoning ordinance was unconstitutional in that it deprived the company of property without due process, and denied it equal protection. Ambler sought an injunction against enforcement of the ordinance on the grounds of unconstitutionality. The following is an excerpt from the Supreme Court’s opinion upholding the constitionality of the ordinance]
… The exclusion of places of business from residential districts is not a declaration that such places are nuisances or that they are to be suppressed as such, but it is a part of the general plan by which the city’s territory is allotted to different uses, in order to prevent, or at least to reduce, the congestion, disorder, and dangers which often inhere in unregulated municipal development.