IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Agricultural preservation, large-lot zoning, and real estate development in New Jersey, USA

Listed author(s):
  • Paul Gottlieb


Registered author(s):

    All developed countries have programs designed to help agricultural landscapes withstand market forces that might otherwise eliminate them. In peri-urban areas within the United States, minimum lot size zoning is a common tool designed to achieve this objective. Along with differential tax assessment and the purchase of development rights, minimum lot size zoning is a key element in many rural preservation programs. It is generally a local government prerogative, meaning that it is enacted at the county level in some states and at the municipal level in others. Large-lot zoning may be evaluated on a number of criteria, including equity outcomes and the supply of affordable housing. An understudied aspect of large-lot zoning is its effect on landscape change at the municipal level. On the one hand, a minimum lot size constraint on newly-constructed homes should reduce the number of local housing starts. Assuming that the main goal of such a policy is to postpone development in the interest of agricultural preservation, this is exactly what the policy intends. On the other hand, those homes that are built will presumably have larger front and backyards than would be the case in the absence of the lot size constraint. This is a potential unintended consequence of lot-size zoning policies. Not only that, it is the very essence of 'urban sprawl' -- a style of low-density development that is widespread in the US, but which is criticized for being socially, environmentally, and fiscally inefficient. This paper will present empirical results on zoning policies and development outcomes in 83 municipalities in northwestern New Jersey, USA. All 83 municipalities retained local control over zoning during the study period (although they subsequently lost some of these powers to a regional planning body). The dataset used for this study is uniquely suited for its intended purpose. It includes panel data on local zoning, open space acquisition, housing starts, and changes in landscape cover derived from aerial photography. It therefore addresses the so-called 'backyard problem' directly, while also deploying enough data to handle the expected endogeneity between residential development and zoning regulations.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa13p513.

    in new window

    Date of creation: Nov 2013
    Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa13p513
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Welthandelsplatz 1, 1020 Vienna, Austria

    Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Douglas J. Miller & Andrew J. Plantinga, 1999. "Modeling Land Use Decisions with Aggregate Data," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(1), pages 180-194.
    2. Hamilton, Bruce W, 1976. "Capitalization of Intrajurisdictional Differences in Local Tax Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(5), pages 743-753, December.
    3. Quigley, John M. & Rosenthal, Larry A., 2005. "The Effects of Land-Use Regulation on the Price of Housing: What Do We Know? What Can We Learn?," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series qt90m9g90w, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
    4. Newburn, David A. & Berck, Peter, 2011. "Growth Management Policies for Exurban and Suburban Development: Theory and an Application to Sonoma County, California," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(03), pages 375-392, December.
    5. Moss, William G., 1977. "Large lot zoning, property taxes, and metropolitan area," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 408-427, October.
    6. Erik Lichtenberg & Ian Hardie, 2007. "Open Space, Forest Conservation, and Urban Sprawl in Maryland Suburban Subdivisions," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1198-1204.
    7. Thorson, James A., 1997. "The Effect of Zoning on Housing Construction," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 81-91, March.
    8. Raup, Philip M., 1975. "Urban Threats To Rural Lands: Background And Beginnings," Staff Papers 13606, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    9. R Pendall, 1999. "Do Land-Use Controls Cause Sprawl?," Environment and Planning B, , vol. 26(4), pages 555-571, August.
    10. J.M. Pogodzinski & Tim R. Sass, 1991. "Measuring the Effects of Municipal Zoning Regulations: A Survey," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 28(4), pages 597-621, August.
    11. Gottlieb, Paul D. & O’Donnell, Anthony & Rudel, Thomas & O’Neill, Karen & McDermott, Melanie, 2012. "Determinants of local housing growth in a multi-jurisdictional region, along with a test for nonmarket zoning," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 296-309.
    12. R Pendall, 1999. "Do land-use controls cause sprawl?," Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 26(4), pages 555-571, July.
    13. McConnell, Virginia & Walls, Margaret & Kopits, Elizabeth, 2006. "Zoning, TDRs and the density of development," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 440-457, May.
    14. Xiangping Liu & Lori Lynch, 2010. "Do Zoning Regulations Rob Rural Landowners' Equity?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(1), pages 1-25.
    15. Pasha, Hafiz A., 1996. "Suburban Minimum Lot Zoning and Spatial Equilibrium," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-12, July.
    16. Hans R. Isakson, 2004. "Analysis of the Effects of Large Lot Zoning," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 26(4), pages 397-416.
    17. Brian Roe & Elena G. Irwin & Hazel A. Morrow-Jones, 2004. "The Effects of Farmland, Farmland Preservation, and Other Neighborhood Amenities on Housing Values and Residential Growth," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 80(1), pages 55-75.
    18. Miller, Douglas & Plantinga, Andrew J., 1999. "Modeling Land Use Decisions with Aggregate Data," Staff General Research Papers Archive 1487, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    19. William Lockeretz, 1989. "Secondary Effects on Midwestern Agriculture of Metropolitan Development and Decreases in Farmland," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 65(3), pages 205-216.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa13p513. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Gunther Maier)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.