October 23, 2012

Vol.35, No.1, Winter2003

The Urban Lawyer

Vol. 35, No. 1, Winter 2003

Publication Date : June 19, 2003

The 30th Anniversary of Golden v. Ramapo:

A Tribute to Robert H. Freilich

In November 2002, the Land Use Law Center of Pace University Law School, the Government Law Center of Albany Law School, The Urban Lawyer, the National Law Journal, and the American Bar Association Section of Local and State Government Law hosted a national conference on Golden v. Ramapo and its extraordinary contemporary relevance. The event was a reunion for the architects of the Ramapo Plan, including the town's chief elected official, professional planner, zoning enforcement officer, and its special counsel, Professor Robert H. Freilich, whose extraordinary career and legacy as the founder and, for over thirty years, the editor of The Urban Lawyer was enthusiastically celebrated as part of the event. The conference was a retrospective for practitioners who reflected on the debt owed the Ramapo case for jump-starting local smart growth strategies, and for scholars who wondered at the wisdom of the continued devolution of land use authority to local governments.


Thomas E. Roberts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

John Ragsdale, Kansas City, Missouri

Patricia Salkin, Albany, New York

Edward J. Sullivan, Portland, Oregon

Lester D. Steinman, White Plains, New York

Mark P. Smith, Dallas, Texas

Mary Massaron Ross, Detroit, Michigan

Daniel R. Mandelker, St. Louis, Missouri

Benjamin E. Griffith, Cleveland, Mississippi

Lora A. Lucero, American Planning Association

James R. Ellis, Seattle, Washington

Dwight H. Merriam, Hartford, Connecticut

Victor Moore, London, United Kingdom

Daniel J. Curtin, Jr., Walnut Creek, California

Stanley D. Abrams, Bethesda, Maryland

Samuel J. Abate, Jr., White Plains, New York


John R. Nolon, Golden and Its Emanations: The Surprising Origins of Smart Growth, 35 Urb. Law. 15 (Winter 2003).

This article provides the background for the adoption of the Ramapo ordinance, explains its precocious inventions in some detail, and describes other dramatic local inventions emanating from the Ramapo approach to smart growth. It ends with a reflection on the Quiet Revolution, the continuing disquiet that accompanies the spectacular smart growth inventions of local governments in this country, and makes modest recommendations for reform. Along the way, the reader will encounter the rebirth of performance zoning, local environmental laws that protect critical environmental resources, a local abandoned property reclamation act, the use of mediation to solve border wars between localities, an intermunicipal incentive zoning program based on cooperative annexation, and the emergence of a number of sub-regional land use compacts among local governments.

Edward J. Sullivan & Matthew J. Michel, Ramapo Plus Thirty: The Changing Role of the Plan in Land Use Regulation, 35 Urb. Law. 75 (Winter 2003).

The comprehensive plan's variety of roles in land use regulation is the result of an evolution in land use legislation and a diaspora in statutory interpretation of the SZEA/SPEA models. The progress of the various states' legislatures in amending their comprehensive plan requirements and of the courts in recognizing the hierarchical relationship of planning to land use regulation through Unitary, Planning Factor, and Planning Mandate approaches since 1975 informs this article. Part II deals with the origin and effects of the Unitary approach and land use regulation, under which zoning regulations and a plan are either conflated or are judged by some unintelligible "meta-rule" of coherence. The Ramapo decision sets the stage as a landmark transition in the comprehensive plan as law from a Unitary to Planning Factor approach taken by various state courts when interpreting SZEA/SPEA model language. Part III examines the changes made to the Unitary approach through state legislation. Part IV deals with Planning Mandate states that recognize the relationship of planning to land use regulation and celebrates in particular the work of Professor Freilich, beginning with Ramapo and continuing with other state, regional, and local programs around the country. Finally, Part V synthesizes the union of the structural and procedural with the substantive elements of planning and land use regulation as interdependent and essential to the success of both.

Thomas G. Pelham, From the Ramapo Plan to Florida's Statewide Concurrency System: Ramapo's Influence on Infrastructure Planning, 35 Urb. Law. 113 (Winter 2003).

This article acknowledges and documents the enduring influence of Ramapo on infrastructure planning in Florida. In Part I, the Ramapo Plan and its judicial review and sanction are discussed. In Part II, the Florida statewide concurrency system and its incorporation of the fundamental principles of the Ramapo Plan are discussed, including consideration of the major criticisms of the Plan. The article concludes by paying homage to Ramapo and the lessons learned and implemented in Florida.

Daniel J. Curtin, Jr., Ramapo's Impact on the Comprehensive Plan, 35 Urb. Law. 135 (Winter 2003).

The role of the General Plan has emerged as a significant element in local and use planning and zoning because many state legislatures have adopted stronger land use planning requirements and more state courts use the plan as a standard in review of zoning decisions. This article reviews briefly the status of the General Plan throughout the United States, the Ramapo decision on implementing the same, and then concentrates on California's approach of treating the Plan as the constitution for all development.

Peter A. Buchsbaum, Ramapo, New York and Mt. Laurel, New Jersey: A Tale of Two Townships, A Study in Contrast, 35 Urb. Law. 151 (Winter 2003).

The thirtieth anniversary of Ramapo provides an opportunity for reflection about its importance and consequences. New Jersey has not followed Ramapo. Clearly, New Jersey and other states have different views as to whether local law authorizes delays based on infrastructure availability in the implementation of a use clearly permitted by a zoning ordinance. However, the issues presented in Ramapo (housing opportunity, regional welfare, and adequate infrastructure) transcend the limits of state laws. They raise questions of profound importance to all states.

Roger P. Akeley, A Compact Region: Ramapo and Beyond, 35 Urb. Law. 157 (Winter 2003).

The Ramapo decision originated in New York courts during an era of optimism about the potential of municipal planning. Ramapo illustrates the possibilities of strong land use management at the local level; but a strong home rule tradition in New York has trumped the ability of the Ramapo spirit to be expressed effectively on a regional basis. New York needs a legislative boost in order to promote smart growth, not to override the home rule tradition, but to support the local capacity to guide growth. State incentives and guidelines for local designation of Priority Growth Areas would be a good way to follow the Hudson River Valley Greenway planning effort with an implementation capacity.

Stuart R. Shamberg & Adam L. Wekstein, The Local and Regional Need for Housing and the Ramapo Plan, 35 Urb. Law. 165 (Winter 2003).

This article explores the legacy of Ramapo on the regional concerns of housing by focusing on four cases that illustrate the impact of Ramapo on the development of multi-family affordable housing.

David L. Callies, Paula A. Franzese & Heidi Kai Guth, Ramapo Looking Forward-Gated Communities, Covenants, and Concerns, 35 Urb. Law. 177 (Winter 2003).

As a form of common interest community, gated and walled communities represent a type of residential development that also includes condominiums, cooperatives, and planned communities. In many ways they closely approximate small municipal governments as they maintain private streets and parks, provide homeowner security, collect homeowner assessments for the purpose of financing the aforesaid activities, and, by means of walls and gates, keep all but homeowners and their invited guests from the precincts of the community. Once considered the domain only of the most affluent, today CICs represent the main staple of suburban and metropolitan residential development. Notwithstanding their proliferation, gated and walled communities have been a source of controversy in many American cities and towns. Questions abound about the priorities and values reflected by gates that separate one section of a neighborhood from another. On the one hand, gates can provide security and at least the sense of enhanced safety, particularly in inner cities, but in suburban settings as well.