NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 7, 2004

Dallas ranks first among U.S. cities in imposing that most moratoriums on nonresidential building -- measures that have become popular with cities in order to control sprawl and keep out "big box" retailers.

  • Since 1996, the city of Dallas has enacted 17 nonresidential building bans -- only Philadelphia comes close, with 2 bans.
  • Winston-Salem, N.C., enacted a 90-day ban in April on any nonresidential development over 125,000 square feet -- and extended it in July.
  • Los Angeles recently approved a resolution requiring "big box" businesses to conduct impact studies before developing in any of the city's Economic Impact zones.

Building moratoriums work by halting construction project for a specific and temporary time period, usually to resolve zoning and building standards issues.

However, some officials oppose passing so many moratoriums, saying they send the message that business is not welcome, which can hurt cities in a time when tax revenue is needed for city budgets. Dallas' Mayor Pro Tem John Loza admits that "we've gone way overboard in the amount we've allowed."

Moreover, many retail giants such as Wal-Mart and Lowe's, which are particularly affected by building moratoriums because of their size, have expressed willingness and flexibility in working with communities in which they wish to build, say observers.

Source: Emily Ramshaw, "Is City Boxing Itself In?" and "Retail Giants Say They'll Work with Neighborhoods," Dallas Morning News, August 28, 2004.


Browse more articles on Environment Issues