Become a Group Home Guru

Zoning Practice — June 2016

By Dwight Merriam, FAICP


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Group homes are sui generis, truly a class unto themselves in terms of planning and regulation. They present nearly intractable challenges for planners, regulators, neighbors, advocates, developers, and many other stakeholders, chief among them the residents.

Largely because of misperceptions by many people and a lack of understanding, group homes are among the most disfavored land uses. However, the appropriate siting of group homes will help a community become a richer and more diverse place, and facilitate social justice.

This issue of Zoning Practice discusses how federal and state laws, as well as social justice goals, affect local zoning for group housing. It reviews key considerations for defining and regulating group homes and highlights the importance of incorporating reasonable accommodation provisions into local codes.


Page Count
Date Published
June 1, 2016
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Dwight Merriam, FAICP
Dwight Merriam, FAICP, a lawyer and land use planner, is a Fellow in the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, a Fellow and Past President and of the American Institute of Certified Planners, Past Chair of the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law, a Counselor of Real Estate, and the Connecticut member of Owners’ Counsel of America. Dwight taught for 40 years as an adjunct professor in several law schools. He has published over 200 articles and 13 books, including co- authoring the casebook, PLANNING AND CONTROL OF LAND DEVELOPMENT, and co-authoring the treatise RATHKOPF’S THE LAW OF ZONING AND PLANNING with Prof. Sara Bronin. He is the author of CONNECTICUT LAND USE LAW and Practice 4th. Dwight served as an active duty and reserve Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy, including three Vietnam deployments, retiring after 31 years as a Captain. UMass BA (cum laude), UNC MRP, and Yale JD.