Planning and Environmental Law

This course examines how land use and environmental laws in the United States shape our cities and landscapes. Such laws raise important questions: What is the role of government in a free-market economy? How should we structure development incentives that consider social costs and the carrying capacity of natural ecosystems? What is the proper balance between government\’s regulatory powers and the constitutionally protected rights of individuals and organizations? A recurrent theme will be the tension between two distinct legal regimes: zoning and other local land use laws, versus federal and state environmental laws. The course will conclude by examining how \”smart growth\” laws and programs can harmonize the land use and environmental law regimes. Course readings include judicial opinions, statutes, ordinances, and secondary critical materials.