Land Use Series

This is a City Learning Point online training series

People have strong feelings about their property rights and the character of their neighborhoods. When conflicts occur, cities often get caught in the middle.

This first course in the Land Use Series will help you understand cities’ roles and authority in land use regulation to more effectively navigate controversial situations.

In our newest course, Creating the Ground Rules: Developing Land Use Plans and Laws, you will learn how proactive planning and regularly updating your city’s land use regulations can help your city make legal land use decisions that advance your community’s vision.

All the laws, examples, and exercises in this training series will apply specifically to Minnesota cities.


Intended audience:

  • Elected city officials and appointed planning commission members.
  • City employees who have responsibilities in land use regulation.

Each person will access and complete the course individually. Upon receiving log-in credentials, registrants may access the courses online at any time and go at their own pace.

Fee: $30 for League members ($60 for non-members) per person for each course, with a discount available to cities that register several people for the courses in this series (see details at right).

Incentive: An LMCIT Land Use Incentive is available to cities that meet certain training participation requirements. Please contact the League for more information related to the incentive (see details at right).


  • Course LU501—Land Use Basics: Grasping the Ground Rules
  • Course LU502—Creating the Ground Rules: Developing Land Use Plans and Laws


Course LU501—Land Use Basics: Grasping the Ground Rules
Cities must consider many perspectives and priorities when making land use decisions, and costly conflicts can occur when cities don’t follow the ground rules. In this course, you will reflect on land use challenges that your city has faced and the consequences that can result when a city oversteps its authority. You’ll consider typical land use situations where you’ll be asked to identify what role the city is playing and determine what information can be considered when making land use decisions. Recognizing your city's role and how much authority it has can help your city avoid expensive lawsuits, minimize controversy, and make land use decisions less confusing.

Course objectives:
Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Appreciate the tensions in land use regulation and the consequences of overstepping the city’s authority.
  • Identify what role the city is playing for each land use decision that it makes.
  • Determine what authority the city has in land use situations and what information the city may consider when making a decision.

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Course LU502—Creating the Ground Rules: Developing Land Use Plans and Laws
Cities have broad powers to set a community vision and create land use regulations to achieve it. However, cities have different needs and approach planning and land use regulation in different ways. The approach any city takes toward land use planning and regulation is ultimately a policy choice for each city to make. In this course, you will learn about a five-step model to guide your city’s approach to land use planning and how to engage the public throughout the community planning process. You'll also complete activities that will help you develop goals, strategies, and regulations to effectively carry out your community’s vision for the future. Proactive planning and regularly updating laws can minimize controversy and help cities make legally defensible land use decisions.

Course objectives:
After completing this course, participants will be familiar with how to:

  • Use a five-step model to guide community planning efforts.
  • Employ various methods to broadly involve the community in defining a vision and goals for the future.
  • Develop effective strategies for meeting planning goals.
  • Create land use regulations that effectively carry out the community’s vision.

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