On April 1, 1974, the Supreme Court announced its opinion in the first zoning case of constitutional dimensions that the Court had decided in the last forty-six years. In sustaining the ordinance of the Village of Belle Terre, with its restrictive definition of "family," the Court reaffirmed its respect for the lines drawn by legislatures in the area of zoning and equal protection. The Belle Terre decision reaffirmed the validity of one municipality's mechanism for preserving the style of life of its inhabitants, free from exposure to one element of the counterculture, the voluntary cooperative association of unrelated persons: the commune. What effects the Belle Terre case will have on similar uses of zoning ordinances to protect the citizens of a community from persons with modes of living different from their own, including other races, the poor, the young, the old, the unmarried, former prison inmates, and those undergoing rehabilitation from mental illness or addiction to alcohol or narcotics, remains to be seen.
Case Comment, Belle Terre v. Boraas, 23 Clev. St. L. Rev. 354 (1974)