Two major ways in which a municipality may shape its pattern of land use are through (1) public capital investment and (2) legal controls over the use of privately owned property.
Public capital investment creates specific public facilities, which make up part of the total land-use pattern. More importantly, public capital investment shapes how the development of privately owned land occurs.
Subdivision regulations essentially control the manner in which raw land is subdivided and placed on the market for development. Although subdivision regulations have been the object of less discussion than zoning, they represent a powerful means of control over the development process. The rigid "Euclidean" zoning, which came into being in the early twentieth century, has now been supplemented with a variety of techniques to make it more flexible, more subject to negotiation, and more adaptable to the planning of large developments as single entities. These devices include "bonus" or "incentive" zoning, transfer of development rights (TDR), planned unit development (PUD), cluster zoning, and a number of others. The newest major innovation is form-based zoning. This technique, very much favored by neotraditionalists, is much more flexible with regard to permitted uses, but much more prescriptive and restrictive with regard to the physical form of development.
Although the right to zone has been clearly established since the 1920s, the limits of the zoning power are still subject to some change as a result of the process of litigation and the establishment of legal precedent. In particular, since the 1960s the courts have redefined municipal obligations to nonresidents as a result of suits brought against suburban communities.
For the most effective shaping of the land-use pattern, public capital investment and land-use controls should be coordinated. Public capital investment affects the demand for land and structures, and land- use controls channel and shape the way in which demand forces play themselves out.