What can be done about unfair zoning ordinance citations?

Jul. 28, 2022

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Zoning ordinances are typically believed to reflect the wishes of those living in the area—specifically, in regards to community members’ health, safety and general welfare. Yet, in his research, William Bunting found that commercial zoning can purposefully be used by municipalities to achieve anti-competitive means.

Municipalities may cite zoning ordinances—such as concerns with excess congestion, or a lack of consumer need—to purposefully prevent specific businesses from opening in certain areas, which inadvertently undermines the free market. 

To curb this anti-competitive behavior, Bunting suggests governments adopt an “economic impact statement” which illustrates the extent to which the zoning action restricts where business can locate within the jurisdiction.