The Richmond Register

July 28, 2013

The Case of the Congenial Town

You be the Judge

By Jack Strauss
Special to the Register

RICHMOND — Drowsy was a quiet and peaceful little residential town, and its officials, like King Arthur in the Broadway show Camelot, wanted to keep it that way.

If they could, they would have prohibited it from raining until after sundown, required morning fog to disappear by 5 a.m., set a legal limit to the snowfall, prohibit July and August from becoming too hot and made it a crime for winter to arrive before December and not depart at the end of March on the dot.

Unable to pass such desirable laws, however, the officials enacted the only law they could to preserve the congenial nature of their town. They zoned the entire town as a residential district.

“You can't do that,” protested Mr. Bucks, a local businessman. “I was going to put up a couple of stores at the main intersection of town. To impose solitary refinement on everybody certainly can't be legal.”

“Sure it is,” responded the town officials. “There are plenty of stores in the shopping center just a few miles out of town. What we need is the blinking of lightening bugs and not the blinking of signs.”

Intent on putting up his stores, Mr. Bucks attacked the legality of the zoning regulation in court.

IF YOU WERE THE JUDGE, would you declare the zoning regulation invalid and let Mr. bucks put up his stores.

This is how the judge ruled: No. The judge ruled that the reasonableness of zoning regulations must be judged by the circumstances of each case. In this case, concluded the judge, there was nothing arbitrary or unreasonable in the town wishing to preserve it's residential character where the business and industrial needs of its inhabitants were supplied by other accessible areas in the community at large.