Champions of Change: Reinventing Democracy Through Land Law Reform

49 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2009

See all articles by John R. Nolon

John R. Nolon

Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University

Date Written: 2006


This Article explores the prospects of achieving policy coherence in the field of land use regulation. It explains how, as municipal governments react to pressures and crises at the local level, they discover and adopt new strategies in a constant process of experimentation. Through a properly constructed legal framework, critical information can be relayed from local to higher levels of government, state and federal legislators and judges can respond, and a "system" of law can evolve. Using theories developed in the fields of systems analysis and diffusion of innovations, the Article describes the process by which local communities perceive land use challenges at the grassroots level and react through the adoption of responsive laws. It argues that state and federal governments, by being attentive to local innovations, can hasten needed change and create a coordinated and efficient system of land use law. The Article presents and analyzes case studies at the federal, state, and local level that illustrate how law reform occurs and that demonstrate the interdependence of all the components within the system. It explains the interplay of bottom-up and top-down forces and the importance of developing a legal framework for ordering the roles, resources, and competencies of each level of government involved.

Suggested Citation

Nolon, John R., Champions of Change: Reinventing Democracy Through Land Law Reform (2006). Harvard Environmental Law Review, Vol. 30, 2006, Available at SSRN:

John R. Nolon (Contact Author)

Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University ( email )

78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics