Summary of Land Use Regulations and Takings Law


Smart growth polices recognize that allowing development to occur anywhere without reasonable land-use regulations brings public costs to communities. However, some property owners and developers argue that any restriction on the use of their land is a taking that, under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, should be compensated. Towns should not be deterred by such arguments from developing land use regulations that encourage smart growth.  The courts, balancing public and private interests, typically uphold municipal decisions to adopt and apply reasonable land use regulations.

Around the country local, regional and state governments are concerned that a land use regulation they are proposing may be considered a taking under the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution.  In order to help community decision-makers, property owners and citizens better understand this topic, we have divided the information into the following sections:

What is a Taking?  – This section provides background, definition of terms and a summary of takings law, including an synopsis of when a regulation is considered a taking.

Avoiding or Defeating Takings Clause Challenges  – This section provides an outline of how a community can carefully implement smart growth land use regulations and ensure that they do not violate Due Process rights or constitute a taking.

Summary of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions –  This section summarized leading Supreme Court decisions on the Takings Clause.

Resources –  This section provides a list of further resources that provide more detailed information on this topic.