Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

Article Title

Coastal Zoning

First Page



In today's atmosphere of environmental awareness, protection of the coastal wetlands seems appropriate for many reasons. The wetlands include much of the most aesthetically pleasing areas in the United States, while also being a source of recreation and enjoyment. Man has long had an economic interest in the valuable natural resources, minerals and fish which the wetlands yield. The result is a conglomerate of conflicting demands upon the wetlands. The situation begs for definition and control of these interests so that the full potential of the coast can be realized.

Zoning has often been suggested as a means to protect the coastal wetlands. Many states have passed "enabling legislation" authorizing cities and towns to regulate the use of land through zoning. Certainly coastal zoning would appear to be more economically feasible than other methods of control such as condemnation.

While attempts to employ coastal zoning are relatively new, many of the older problems first met by inland zoning reoccur. The major restrictions on zoning appear to be that zonal boundaries must not be unreasonable, arbitrary, or discriminatory. Zoning regulations must be constitutional, with particular emphasis placed on the due process, equal protection and supremacy clauses in the examination of the regulations.