Consolidating Zoning Districts

Zoning Practice — February 2012

By Donald Elliott, FAICP


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As cities grow and counties mature, they need to accommodate new kinds of development, and that often leads to the creation of new zoning districts. They don't exactly breed like rabbits, but they do tend to proliferate over time.

Proliferation of zone districts creates several problems, none of them fatal but most of them annoying. First, the creation of a new district needs to be reflected in all of the non-district based-controls in the zoning code. A second problem is that proliferation of zone districts make it hard for staff, citizens, and investors to understand and remember how the code works.

This issue of Zoning Practice presents a common sense approach to consolidating zoning districts with an eye toward more effective development regulation and user-friendly administration. And it highlights successful consolidation efforts from Duluth, Minnesota; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Philadelphia.


Page Count
Date Published
Feb. 1, 2012
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Donald Elliott, FAICP
Donald L. Elliott, FAICP, is a Senior Consultant with Clarion Associates, LLC, a national land use consulting firm. Don’s practice focuses on land development regulation, fair and affordable housing, and international land and urban development issues. Don has assisted over 70 U.S. communities to update plans and regulations related to housing, zoning, subdivision, fair housing, and land development. He is the author of A Better Way to Zone (Island Press 2008), co-author of The Rules that Shape Urban Form (APA 2012) and The Citizen’s Guide to Planning (APA 2009) and has served as the editor of Colorado Land Planning and Development Law for 30 years. Don teaches graduate level course on Land Use Regulation at the University of Colorado at Denver School of Architecture and Planning and is a former member of the Denver Planning Board. Don has a bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy Analysis from Yale University, a law degree from Harvard Law School, and a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.