Regulation, Open Space, and the Value of Land Undergoing Residential Subdivision

Ian Hardie, Erik Lichtenberg and Cynthia J. Nickerson


We investigate the effects of forest conservation requirements and zoning on the value of land undergoing subdivision. Land prices are increasing in the percentage of subdivision acreage developers are required to keep in forest, suggesting that forest conservation regulations increase the amounts of forested open space that developers provide. Benefits from open-space amenities remain largely internal to the subdivision, so that land market incentives mitigate the justification for open space preservation policies. Consistent with theoretical predictions that zoning promotes sprawl, we find that minimum-lot-size zoning constrains developers of closer-in subdivisions where public sewers are available. (JEL R52)

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