Planning and Environmental Law

This course examines the law, embodied in local ordinances, state and federal statutes, constitutions, judicial opinions, administrative regulations, and private agreements, governing the use, development, and preservation of land. The purpose of the course is to provide students with a basic understanding of the theories, rationales, techniques, and implementing institutions involved in legally controlling or influencing the use of land, and to show how laws approach to land-use and environmental issues is similar to or different from that employed by other fields and disciplines. Particular emphasis is placed on laws intended and unintended consequences on the physical pattern of built and natural environments, on the overlap between planning law and environmental law regimes, and on the tensions between protection of individual rights and advancement of community goals. The role of the non-lawyer (planner, designer, public policymaker, etc.) in dealing with law will be regularly addressed. Among the legal techniques explored in the course are zoning, new urbanism codes, transfer of development rights, subdivision controls, local and state growth management, environmental impact assessment, laws dealing with endangered species, wetlands, solid waste, exactions and impact fees, design review and guidelines, historic preservation, billboard/sign/cell tower controls, and eminent domain. Course readings include primary legal materials of statutes, constitutions, judicial opinions, and secondary critical materials. The course focuses principally, although not exclusively, on planning and environmental laws in the United States. When appropriate, class time will be devoted to comparisons with legal regimes in other countries. No prior legal education or experience is assumed for the course.