Schilling 2005 - “The Public Health Roots of Zoning: In Search of Active Living’s Legal Genealogy”

Schilling, Joseph;  Linton , Leslie S.
“The Public Health Roots of Zoning: In Search of Active Living’s Legal Genealogy”
American Journal of Preventive Medicine
February 2005; v.28, n.2, Supplement 2; pp.96-104.
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Schilling and Linton give a good overview of zoning, its origin in public health, and how to adapt zoning to today's public health problems.

Zoning began with Ambler Realty v. Village of Euclid (1926), in which a suburb of Cleveland restricted the location of retail, industry, single-family homes, and multi-family homes to protect rural and residential areas from industrial encroachment.  Thus the original public health reasons for zoning were based on nuisance laws and designed to protect people from

  • industrial pollution and dangers
  • infectious diseases spread by overcrowding and poor sanitation, and
  • generally unhealthy and poor construction.

Both development and public health conditions have changed since 1926.  Cities are much safer and healthier, and mixing land uses (especially residential and retail) is no longer a threat to health but may improve it by encouraging physical activity.  In the second half of the paper Schilling and Linton suggest a legal framework for connecting zoning to today's public health problems and encourage more study of the issue.

 

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