Development Moratoriums

In most states, cities can enact a moratorium on commercial development, provided that the moratorium promotes valid public purposes, is limited in duration, and is used for planning. A number of communities have temporarily suspended large-scale retail development in order to allow time to consider the impacts of superstores and to revise the local comprehensive plan and zoning code accordingly.

In addition to the policy examples below, also see Easton, MD, Bennington, VT, and Bellinham, WA — three examples of cities that started with development moratoriums and went on to adopt ordinances limiting large-scale stores.

More Information:


Development Moratoria – Fort Collins, CO

In 1994, Fort Collins adopted a six-month moratorium on development of stores larger than 80,000 square feet. The city used the time to review the design, transportation, and other planning issues posed by big box retailers, and to make changes to its planning and zoning rules.… Read More

Development Moratoria – Moab, UT

In January 2007, the town of Moab, Utah, adopted the following ordinance which temporarily prohibits the construction of stores larger than 40,000 square feet. … Read More

Development Moratorium – Tacoma, WA

On August 30, 2011, the Tacoma City Council adopted an emergency moratorium that prohibits the permitting of retail sales establishments with a floor area greater than 65,000 square feet in size within the city.… Read More
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Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies.