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There are at least two major factors that can be cited to justify modern zoning and land use ordinances.
First, zoning laws can protect people from what economists call negative externalities. These are costs that people incur from economic activity that they are not party to. For example, if a slaughterhouse moves in next door to me, the smells and the sights associated with it will cost me money because they will reduce the value of my property. I will not be compensated for this loss. This is what economists call a market failure and is a good reason for government to step in.
Second, without zoning laws, people would be much less willing to buy houses. You would be very worried about buying a house if you knew that your investment could be destroyed at any moment by a factory or a "big box" store going in very close to where you live. If people do not buy houses, our economy suffers and so does our society. Home ownership is seen as a good thing for the economy and the society and zoning laws are necessary to make home ownership feasible.
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