The Legal Basis of Planning
This chapter describes the legal framework and legal limitations within which local and state governments act. The evolution, over several decades, of the right of government to exercise some control over the use of privately owned property is one of the central stories in the history of modern planning. The land-use control technique that has evolved over the years, namely zoning, does exactly what is alluded to: it limits the uses to which land can be put. The legitimacy of zoning rests on the legal concept of the police power. That perhaps misleading term refers to the right of the community to regulate the activities of private parties to protect the interests of the public. The rights of the community under the concept of the police power and the rights of the property owner under constitutional and other safeguards push in opposite directions.