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The composition of American households has changed dramatically in the last several decades, but plans and regulations have not. What may have worked 50, or even 20, years ago in regulating single-family uses is very different from what works now. The timeless challenge remains: accommodating modern needs without destroying the character of single-family neighborhoods.
Definitional and procedural tools can protect the character of single-family residential districts and yet still allow greater numbers of unrelated people who share common bonds (i.e., a "functional family") to live there.
This issue of Zoning Practice explores how American households have changed in the last several decades and offers suggestions for planners looking to bring definitions of "family" and standards for single-family dwellings into alignment with contemporary practice and federal fair housing laws.
About the Author
Dwight Merriam, FAICP
Dwight H. Merriam, FAICP, a lawyer and land use planner, is a Fellow in the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, a Fellow and Past President and of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and Past Chair of the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law. He has published over 200 articles and 13 books, including co-editing the treatise Rathkopf’s The Law of Zoning and Planning. UMass BA (cum laude), UNC MRP, and Yale JD.