Vanderbilt Law Review


E. C. Yokley

First Page



Progressive and fortunate is the city or town served by a planning commission whose membership is comprised of upstanding and public spirited citizens of known integrity, who give freely of their time and talents in such activity. When the same city or town can point with pride to a board of zoning appeals possessing the same high qualities of dedicated public service, it is doubly blessed.

The members of such commissions and boards become the city's most effective police officers when they properly perform their duties. This is literally true, because they derive all of their authority from such part of the police power of the state as is lawfully delegated to them. Some members of such commissions and boards, if they should ever read this article, will be surprised to find themselves designated policemen, but just as the police officer in the prowl car performs an essential community function when he breaks up a riot or fight and restores order in a disorderly neighborhood, so do the members of planning bodies and appeal boards contribute to the good order and welfare of the community when they bring order out of chaos in the proper regulation of the use of property by citizens who might otherwise run roughshod over the rights of their neighbors.

Just what is the proper place of the planning commission and the board of zoning appeals in the life of a community? The answer must be found in an examination of the respective powers and duties of such boards and commissions and the manner in which these powers and duties are performed through the medium of properly conducted hearings.

In such a discussion here some generalizations are necessarily in order in the interest of complying with limitations of space. To properly explore all the facets of the subject chosen for discussion would consume a volume of considerable size.