26 St. & Loc. L. News 1 (2002-2003)

handle is hein.journals/stlolane10 and id is 1 raw text is: ction of State and Local Government Law

The Section serves as a collegialforum for its members, the profession and the public to provide leadership and educational resources in
urban, state and local government law and policy.
The Contemporary Relevance of Golden v. Ramapo
By John R. Nolon

his year marks the thirtieth anniversary of one of the ju-
diciary's most important contributions to the nation's
land-use law. New York's highest court decided Golden v.
Ramapo in 1972. On November 9,2002, the Government
Law Center ofAlbany Law School, the Land Use Law Cen-
ter of Pace University Law School, the NationalLawJour-
nal, and the Section of State and Local Government Law
will host a national conference on the case and its extraordi-
nary contemporary relevance. Speakers include several of the
nation's leading land-use scholars, including Robert H.
Freilich who created the Ramapo plan, many of the local of-
ficials and professionals involved in developing Ramapo's
precocious land-use strategy, and several attorneys and plan-
ners deeply involved in the development of sophisticated
land-use strategies today. (Information about the conference
may be obtained by calling the Land Use Law Center at
914/422-4262 or e-mailing amccoy@law.pace. edu.)
Between 1940 and 1968, Ramapo, located near NewYork
City, experienced a population growth rate of 300%. In 1969,
the town board adopted a number of land-use strategies that
became known as a growth management program. Its inven-
tions were sophisticated, controversial, and legally dubious.
Ramapo's land-use devices and the courts' sanction of them
are credited with accelerating the incipient growth manage-
ment movement.
As a more basic matter, Ramapo's investment in compre-
hensive planning put it solidly on the side of a debate emerg-
ing in the 1960s about the wisdom of adopting master plans
in the majority of states where local governments have the
option of doing so. Some advocates, even today, think local
John R. Nolon is professor of /aw at
Pace University School of Law and the
director of its Land Use Law Center
and visiting professor at the Yale School
ofForestry and Environmental Studies.

master plans unduly constrain local governments and are in-
effective documents, not worth the high cost of preparing
them. Others believe that land-use laws that conform to ob-
jectives contained in adopted master plans are highly success-
fil in overcoming legal challenges. They strongly urge com-
munities to adopt, and regularly update, truly comprehensive
plans, backed up by detailed studies.
To implement its master plan, Ramapo adopted several
amendments to its zoning ordinance. It also adopted a six-
year capital budget and a capital plan for the following twelve
years that committed the town to providing supportive in-
frastructure to all parts of the community over an eighteen-
year period. No changes were made in the town's zoning dis-
tricts or in the land uses allowed in each district. Instead,
residential subdivision was designated a new class of land use
and prospective subdividers were required to obtain a special
permit. The permit could not be issued unless a critical mass
of infrastructure was in place to serve the subdivision, includ-
ing roads, sewers, drainage, parks, and firehouses. This pro-
vision created a temporary suspension of the right to devel-
op-similar to the effect of a development moratorium.
Further provisions of the Ramapo amendments softened
the effect of the temporary restraint on development. Devel-
opment of unsubdivided land was not prohibited, leaving all
continued on page 14
 Chair's Message, by Mary Massaron Ross, page 2
 Section News, page 3
 Section Fall Meeting, Detroit, page 6
 The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation
Act: Is It Constitutional?, page 7
* Environment, Economy, Subsidies, and the Law,
page 9
 A State's Obligation to Refund Unconstitutional
Taxes, page 12

Vol. 26, No. 1, Fall 2002

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