by Paul DeBaggis
An introduction to the
tangled thicket of
regulations you'll need to
know to play the game
Once, the development game was simple.
Until the early 1900s, speculators
bought land, slapped up buildings, and
sold them for hefty profits. Then, in
1926, the U.S. Supreme Court validated
local zoning. Since that decision,
cities and towns have churned out laws
faster than rabbits make rabbits, and
today's building regulatory network
consists of a confused public, frustrated
developers, and hypertensive law enforcers,
all languishing in layers of
The Supreme Court acted rightly.
And the building industry should not
really gripe with the lawmakers, either.
Certainly, a few towns have concocted
some witless zoning bylaws, trying to
use them to stop building