UM Professor of Law Rick Hills Discusses Housing and Zoning

This event was held on October 20, 2005 at Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

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At this third in a series of public lectures to create a vision for downtown Ann Arbor, Rick Hills, UM Professor of Law will discuss the history of zoning, suggesting how traditional ordinances can interfere with vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtowns. The series, featuring highly respected leaders in the modern movement to revitalize American cities, is cosponsored by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Strategy Steering Committee.

From its inception in 1916, zoning ordinances have been used primarily for two purposes -- to protect neighborhoods from change of any sort and to segregate low-value uses from high-value uses. Traditional zoning ordinances tend to prevent policy-makers from increasing the residential densities of downtown retail areas, even when the overall population of a commutershed radically increases. The zoning process also tends to privilege the opponents of change, giving them powerful legal weapons to prevent the increased densities and mixed uses that promote livable downtowns.

Mr. Hill will outline how reforms of the zoning process can go a long way towards creating downtown districts where people can both live and work in a socially lively, culturally rich setting.

For more information on this community visioning project, visit

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