Land Use Law Specialization

​​​​​​As the global population grows, land use issues intensify. Competing interests vie for land to support housing, agriculture, commercial development, and recreation. Working through those conflicts to make decisions that benefit societies over the long term requires well-reasoned, innovative laws and policies.

Specialization in land use includes a wide range of areas, including smart growth principles, ecological planning, and affordable housing. It also includes flood hazard mitigation, energy and land use regulatory decision-making, permitting processes, and land conservation strategies.

Sustainable development, ecological planning, siting of energy installations, permitting processes, and the scope of eminent domain: the legal and planning aspects of these current issues are part of Vermont Law School’s extensive land use curriculum. Our courses include:

Our land use faculty are advocates and scholars. For example, Professor John Echeverria filed an amicus brief in 2016 on behalf of a group of land economists in a U.S. Supreme Court case, Murr v. State of Wisconsin, involving a "takings" challenge to the land use regulations protecting the St. Croix Wild and Scenic River. Professor Sean Nolon’s article, "Bargaining for Development Post-Koontz: How the Supreme Court Invaded Local Government," appears in the 2016 Zoning and Planning Law Handbook. Professor Janet Milne used Hurricane Sandy as a case study in her 2016 article "Storms Ahead," which appears in the Vermont Law Review, advocating for environmental taxes that can help communities as they invest in adapting to climate change. Professor Kinvin Wroth is a co-editor of the book NAFTA and Sustainable Development, which assesses the current state of environmental protection under the North American Free Trade Agreement and the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation.

Other initiatives include the annual Norman Williams Distinguished Lecture in Land Use Planning and the Law and the annual conference on Litigating Takings Challenges to Land Use and Environmental Regulations.