Model Enabling Legislation for Rural County Planning and Zoning

Zoning Practice — July 2014

By Lane Kendig


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Planners recognize the need to protect the character and economy of rural areas. But the sad state of affairs is that over the last 50 years the profession has made little progress in achieving these goals. A major cause of the failure is state legislation that enables county planning and zoning.

In most states, enabling laws for planning and zoning draw little distinction between counties and municipalities. These laws are primarily based on projecting growth and accommodating demand for residential, commercial, office, and industrial uses. Consequently, contemporary county enabling laws fail to protect rural character or the rural economy.

This issue of Zoning Practice explains how contemporary planning and zoning enabling laws are inadequate to protect rural counties and offers a proposal for reforming state enabling legislation. To illustrate this proposal, it includes model provisions to enable rural county planning and zoning.


Page Count
Date Published
July 1, 2014
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Lane Kendig
Lane Kendig is the founder of Kendig Keast Collaborative a national planning firm. Prior to that he worked in Bucks County, PA and was county planning director in Lake County, IL. He has practiced planning for over 45 years across the United States working for large and small cities, counties, and developers. He is the author of “Performance Zoning” (APA 1980) and the Island Press books “Community Character” and “Planning with Community Character” 2010. He has authored three PAS reports for APA, as well as writing numerous articles. He is an expert in comprehensive planning, land use regulations, and environmental protection. Mr. Kendig has not only written plans and codes, but reviewed thousands of site plans and designed developments ranging from small residential to super regional shopping centers.