Modernizing Zoning for Home Occupations

Zoning Practice — September 2006

By Patricia Salkin


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With the growth in working from home, municipalities must creatively balance public health, safety, and welfare in residential districts against the pressures necessitating the accommodation of appropriate home-based businesses. Environment and energy conservation advocates tout zoning for increased home occupations as a positive step towards reducing daily commuter traffic, energy consumption, and air pollution.

As telecommuting and home offices become a way of life, local zoning codes should reflect, rather than deny, the reality. Working from home can help parents balance work and family, enable low-income individuals to achieve economic self-sufficiency, and alleviate social and environmental problems resulting from sprawl.

This issue of Zoning Practice offers planners ideas and examples of ways to modernize local zoning laws to balance the growing demand by residents to engage in legitimate home-based businesses, while protecting community character and the health, safety, and welfare of neighbors in residential zoning.


Page Count
Date Published
Sept. 1, 2006
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Patricia Salkin
Patricia E. Salkin is Dean and Professor of Law at Touro Law Center. She previously served as the Raymond & Ella Smith Distinguished Professor of Law, as well as Associate Dean and Director of the Government Law Center of Albany Law School. Salkin is the author of hundreds of books, articles and columns primarily focused on land use, zoning and community development. She served two terms as an appointed member of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, a Federal Advisory Committee to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A member of the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates, Dean Salkin holds and has held many leadership positions within both the ABA and the New York State Bar Association including: Past Chair of the ABA State and Local Government Section and current member of the Standing Committee on Governmental Affairs (ABA); Past Chair of the NYSBA Municipal Law Section and Founding Member and Past Chair of the NYSBA Committee on Attorneys in Public Service; and she has chaired numerous NYSBA task forces including ones focusing on: government ethics, eminent domain, town and village justice courts, and legal education and admission to the bar. A nationally recognized scholar on land use law and zoning, Dean Salkin is the author of the popular blog, Law of the Land Her land use publications include: The 4-volume 4th edition of New York Zoning Law & Practice; the 5-volume 5th edition of American Law of Zoning; Land Use & Sustainable Development: Cases and Materials, 8th ed.; Climate Change and Sustainable Development Law in a Nutshell; Land Use in a Nutshell, 2nd ed., the last three being co-authored works. She has served on the Board of Directors of the New York Planning Federation, and has been active in land use reform efforts including membership on the Land Use Advisory Committee of the NYS Legislative Commission on Rural Resources. She served for two decades a reporter for the American Planning Association's Planning & Environmental Law (until it ceased publication) and on the Editorial Advisory Board for The Urban Lawyer produced by UMKC School of Law for the ABA. Dean Salkin continues to serve as the long-term chair of the American Planning Association's Amicus Curiae Committee. She has consulted on land use issues for many national organizations including: the American Planning Association, the American Institute of Certified Planners, the National Academy for Public Administration and the National Governor’s Association.