Smart Communities Network banner

WelcomeContactSite IndexNewsletterEspanol

Land Use Planning

Key Principles


Civic Participation


Success Stories

Codes / Ordinances

Articles / Publications

Educational Materials

Other Resources

Land Use Codes/Ordinances


City of Burlington, Vermont--1996 Municipal Development Plan 
Presents a vision for sustainable land use and development over the next ten to twenty year period in Burlington. Aims to prepare the city for sustainable development, provides a reliable basis for public and private investment, and will guide the city into the twenty-first century. 

Cityshape 2020--Scottsdale, Arizona; 1995 
Presents sustainable guiding principles, prepared in a citizen-driven process, for land use decisions in Scottsdale. 

The Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook; 2002 
The Guidebook and its accompanying User Manual are the culmination of the American Planning Association's seven-year Growing Smart project, an effort to draft the next generation of model planning and zoning legislation for the U.S.   A unique feature of the Guidebook is the variety of options provided for statutory reform instead of a one-size-fits-all model. APA also offers Planning for Smart Growth: 2002 State of the States, a report available online, which tracks each state's level of success in smart growth through planning.

Local Planning Technical Assistance Act--State of Illinois; 2002
This law updated planning statutes from the 1920s. It defines the elements of a good comprehensive plan and provides assistance to jurisdictions in developing a plan that addresses transportation, land use and natural resources, community vision, and other elements.

Minnesota's Community-Based Planning Act -- 1997  (PDF format) 
Legislation building on the state's sustainable development statutes.  The Act sets 11 goals for community-based planning, creates an advisory council to refine program details, and funds pilot projects. 

Regulating Ordinance--Belmont, North Carolina; 1994 
Provides "Traditional Neighborhood Development" guidelines, including mixed-use, pedestrian oriented planning. 

Retail and Service Building Ordinance--Stoughton, Wisconsin; 2004
This ordinance for "big box" stores over 20,000 square feet is intended to ensure that such buildings are compatible with the surrounding area and the overall community character of the city.

Smart Development Code Handbook and Appendix 
This publication from the state of Oregon, one of several code assistance handbooks, presents common obstacles to smart development and provides guidance to communities in determining whether their local codes and standards encourage, support, or impede smart development. 

"Smart Growth" and Neighborhood Conservation-- Maryland Senate Bill 389; passed 1997 
Establishes priority funding areas in the State so as to preserve existing neighborhoods and agricultural, natural, and rural resources; prohibits State agencies from approving specified projects that are not in priority funding areas; provides for specified exceptions; establishes a certification process for the designation of eligible priority funding areas; requires municipal corporations to adopt specified development standards and assist counties in the collection of fees to finance specified school construction.

Smart Growth Program-- State of Maryland; 1997, revised 2001.
The 1997 General Assembly adopted several specific programs, which together form the Smart Growth initiatives. Collectively, these initiatives aim to direct State resources to revitalize older developed areas, preserve some of Maryland's valuable resource and open space lands, and discourage the continuation of sprawling development into rural areas. 

Smart Growth Zoning Codes: A Resource Guide; 2003
This publication from the Local Government Commission compiles research of more than 150 "smart growth" zoning codes from across the nation.This guidebook will help planners design a zoning code that encourages the construction of walkable, mixed use neighborhoods and the revitalization of existing places. An executive summary, Overcoming Obstacles to Smart Growth through Code Reform, is available online.

Statewide Planning Goals and Guidelines--State of Oregon; 1996 
Presents 19 planning goals expressing state policies on land use and related topics along with suggestions on how to apply goals. 

Superstores Law--Los Angeles; 2004
An ordinance adopted by the Los Angeles City Council will require developers of superstores to perform cost-benefit analyses of their projects' impact on job loss, replacement of good-paying jobs with poverty-wage jobs, loss of open space, destruction of local businesses, and increased crime and traffic.

Wisconsin Smart Growth Legislation; 1999
The legislation defines what a "comprehensive plan" is, outlines procedures for adopting these plans, and requires that certain actions, beginning in 2010, be consistent with an adopted plan. The legislation also established a planning grants program for comprehensive planning.


Georgia Greenspace Commission -- State of Georgia; 2000
The text of Georgia Senate Bill 399, providing for state and local government activities with respect to preservation of greenspace, and the creation of the Georgia Greenspace Commission.

Greenway District Ordinance -- Jackson County, Oregon; 1989
This ordinance, online in PDF, implements greenway plans. It includes definitions, permitted uses and conditional uses of a public greenway.

Greenway Ordinance -- Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee; 1999
This ordinance, which could serve as a model for other communities, authorizes the acceptance of certain property for use as park space and an easement for use as a greenway. It also authorizes greenway improvements.

Riparian Habitat Management--Napa, California; 1987 
Delineates requirements for creating a riparian habitat management plan, including creation of streamside buffer areas and the protection and maintenance of vegetation. 

Santa Rosa Creek Greenway Resolution--Santa Rosa, California; 1990 
Provides for the funding and other requirements to establish a creekside multi-purpose greenway. 

Solar Access Protection 

Title 9 Land Use Regulations: Chapter 8 Solar Access --Boulder, Colorado; 1991 
Limits the amount of permitted shading by new construction and requires that new buildings be sited to provide good solar access. 

Solar Energy Ordinance--Port Arthur, Texas; 1979 
Defines solar energy and mandates design principles which utilize solar energy and protect building access to its use. 

Solar Access: Summary of Ordinance--Boulder, Colorado; 1991 
Describes an ordinance which limits the amount of permitted shading by new construction and requires that new buildings be sited to provide good solar access. 

Solar Access Regulations--Boulder, Colorado; 1991 
Limits the amount of permitted shading by new construction and requires that new buildings be sited to provide good solar access. 

Solar access, thermal performance and solar heating--Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin; 1980 
Establishes energy performance standards for new building, including a requirement that non-residential buildings receive a minimum of 50 percent of their heating from solar energy. 

Solar Codes and Ordinances--New Pattonsburg, Missouri; 1996 
Provides for protection of solar access, encourages alternative housing design ,the use of wind energy conversion systems and other resource efficient technologies. 

Urban Forestry 

Guidelines for Developing and Evaluating Tree Ordinances
A website from the USDA Forest Service and the International Society of Arboriculture, which includes information on planning for an ordinance, drafting an ordinance and evaluating an ordinance.

Street Trees, Shrubs and Plants Management--Carpenteria, California; 1994 
Establishes regulations governing planting, care, maintenance and removal of trees and plants. 

Urban Tree Ordinance Index
An online index provided by the USDA Forest Service Southern Region.

Agricultural Land Protection 

Conservation Easement Program (Guidelines)--Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; 1996 
Uses the acquisition of agricultural conservation easements as a tool to protect the areas rich agricultural heritage. 

Farmland Preservation Laws
The Farmland Information Library provides this searchable collection of local, state and federal laws, administrative regulations, state executive orders and state attorney general opinions related to farmland protection.

Farmland Protection Policy Act -- Federal; 2000
The purpose of the Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA) is to minimize the extent to which Federal programs contribute to the unnecessary and irreversible conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses.

Model Agricultural Zoning Ordinance--Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; 1994 
Provides a model document to include effective protection of agricultural and farm land in overall planning and zoning guidelines.

Right to Farm Ordinance--Davis, California; 1995 
Provides the preservation of agricultural lands in Davis (well known for its efforts in environmentally sensitive management), and surrounding Solano County. 

Brownfield Development 

New Jersey Brownfield Legislation, Senate Bill 39--1998 
Makes variations in New Jersey state law to facilitate the remediation of contaminated real property and specifies an appropriation.  To order a copy of the legislation, call New Jersey Legislative Services at (609) 292-4840 or e-mail

Brownfields-voluntary cleanup and revitalization programs --State of Maryland; 1997 
Establishes a voluntary program in the Maryland Department of Environment and sets guidelines for regulations, fees and approval of applications. 

Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act -- Federal; 2002
The Act is intended to stimulate the redevelopment of old industrial properties. The new law reforms the federal Superfund law, providing liability protection for prospective purchasers, contiguous property owners, and innocent landowners. The bill also provides $200 million annually over the next five years to states to clean and revitalize brownfield properties and creates a public record of brownfield sites.

Open Space 

Many municipalities and counties have open space protection programs and local taxes that support the purchase and preservation of open space.

Hillside Preservation District--Pacifica, California; 
Encourages protection of natural topographic features and discourages the development of ridgelines. 

Open Space Preservation Codes--National Association of Counties
NACo furnishes the text of actual codes submitted by individual counties.

Open Space District--Marin County, California 
Provide the philosophy, guidelines and regulations which protect and maintain the County’s natural spaces. 
* Marin County Open Space Preservation Program Policy; 1985 
* Marin County Open Space District Code; 1994 

Performance Zoning Model Ordinance--Bucks County, Pennsylvania; January 1996 
Presents a zoning method with a primary objective of protecting natural resources and a secondary objective of providing flexibility in the design of residential development. 

Wetlands Protection--Boulder, Colorado; 1981 
Protects area wetlands through restrictions on use and development, including adjacent areas where use and development might adversely impact wetlands. 

Transfer of Development Credits 

Transfer of Development Credits--Monterey County, California; 
Allows the transfer of development rights from one parcel to another as a tool in programs to discourage building in sensitive areas of the Big Sur. 
* Transfer of Development Credit Zoning Ordinance, Title 20; 1995 
* Transfer of Development Credit Policies, Big Sur Land Use Plan; 1988.

Transfer of Development Rights--State of New York
The Pace Law School Land Use Law Center describes the transfer of development rights process as applied in New York.

Last updated: November 4, 2004

Back to Top