Contract & Conditional Zoning Without Romance: A Public Choice Analysis

41 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2013 Last revised: 4 Mar 2013

Date Written: March 1, 2013


The growth and development of the United States after World War II left the country needing more flexibility in zoning law. Over the past few decades, zoning has undergone drastic changes to make the process more flexible. Two methods used to meet this new demand are contract and conditional zoning. Jurisdictions are split on whether to permit contract zoning, conditional zoning, both, or neither. This is an important question that a growing number of jurisdictions have recently encountered. This Note seeks to propose potential solutions to the conflict by analyzing it through public choice theory. By applying the principles of public choice theory, this Note finds that increased flexibility in zoning will likely have the undesired consequence of allowing legislators to easily appease interest groups, rather than bargain for the most efficient land use allocation. From this observation, this Note ultimately concludes that jurisdictions should either prohibit both contract and conditional zoning or, if economic efficiency concerns prove too great, permit both contract and conditional zoning but apply a strict standard of judicial review.

Keywords: public choice, public choice theory, land-use, land use, zoning, contract zoning, conditional zoning, James M. Buchanan, James Buchanan

Suggested Citation

Fraietta, Philip, Contract & Conditional Zoning Without Romance: A Public Choice Analysis (March 1, 2013). Fordham Law Review, Vol. 81, No. 4, 2013. Available at SSRN: or

Philip Fraietta (Contact Author)

Fordham Law Review ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

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