January 25, 2022

Regulating without Zoning in Maine Towns

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Abstract

For a century, zoning has been the quintessential form of land use regulation in the United States. But in Maine, at least 200 towns continue to regulate land use without dividing their territory into districts subject to differing regulation. I use qualitative and statistical methods to investigate the causes and effects of persistent nonzoning in Maine. Unzoned towns are typically smaller and have less commercial development pressure. Unzoned towns are neither more nor less strict than similar, zoned neighbors. Nonspatial regulation is a sustainable alternative to zoning for small Maine towns.

JEL codes: R52, K32

Keywords: Zoning, land use regulation, local government