Let the Courts Guide You: Planning and Zoning Consistency

Zoning Practice — November 2005

By Brian Ohm


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The idea that local land-use decisions should be consistent with an independently adopted local comprehensive plan is a fundamental concept of planning practice. An increasing number of states have adopted legislation requiring consistency between certain land-use regulations, such as zoning and subdivision ordinances, and a local comprehensive plan.

Many states also have adopted legislation that requires other decisions (including sewer extensions, the creation of tax increment finance districts or redevelopment districts, etc.) to be consistent with a comprehensive plan. But more specific guidance for how to apply the legislative requirement for consistency is often left to the determination of the courts.

This issue of Zoning Practice explores some of the case law developed by the courts as they interpret statutory requirements for consistency. It focuses primarily on cases arising in California, Maine, Florida, and Washington.


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Date Published
Nov. 1, 2005
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Brian Ohm
Brian Ohm is a professor in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he teaches courses in land use law for the planning program and the Law School. He is also the planning law specialist for the Division of Extension and has written numerous publications on planning law in Wisconsin. Prior to joining the faculty at UW, he worked for a large law firm in Minneapolis and as in-house counsel for the Metropolitan Council, the regional governing body of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. He has a BA from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and graduate and law degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.