Land Use Regulation: Selected Topics

Many planners are familiar with the term “Euclidean” zoning, and will almost instinctively equate it with a kind of rigid, unimaginative, and perhaps outdated approach to land use management. Euclid, of course, was the father of geometry. He taught us how to systematically describe and understand the physical world. But despite the apparent parallels between geometry and zoning, planners might also know that Euclidean zoning isn’t named for Euclid the mathematician, who did most of his important work around 300 B.C., long before zoning as we know it was invented. Euclid the Village lays a more recent claim to notoriety, being the successful party in a landmark land use decision of the US Supreme Court from 1926. That decision upheld the Village of Euclid’s zoning scheme, which prevented an owner, Ambler Realty, from developing its land for industrial use. Ambler said the zoning scheme was an unconstitutional “taking” of its land. The US Supreme Court disagreed.

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