Now that I've gotten into this historical perspective, I thought about uploading a few pages that I have of a book that was published in 1949 chronicling the first 15 years of the Tennessee State Planning Commission, and as a result, also discussing the adoption of the Tennessee Zoning and Planning Enabling Legislation in 1935. However, I found a copy of the book is already been uploaded. You can read it here.
In particular, take a look at page 4 of the book:
The Tennessee Valley Authority's Division of Land Use Planning and Housing had retained Alfred Bettman of Cincinnati to make a complete investigation and report on the state Constitution and all legislative acts in Tennessee relating to planning to serve as a basis for preparing constructive legislative bills. subsequently, the Tennessee State Planning Board retained Mr. Bettman to prepare comprehensive state planning legislation and Gov. McAlister agreed to sponsor such legislation.I found this passage for the first time back in 1980, shortly after I started practicing law. I had been driven to look for the author of the original Tennessee State enabling legislation because of the similarities between the state variance language and the language contained in the state enabling legislation in New Jersey. I wondered what could be the connection between Tennessee and New Jersey, in the land use planning arena. If both states had simply had the version of the variance requirements set out in the Standard State Zoning Enabling Act, my curiosity would not have been piqued. But because both states relied on the special language requiring "exceptional shallowness, narrowness, or shape," it seemed to me there had to be some connection.
Once I found this passage, it was a simple matter to check on Alfred Bettman, and discover that he had, in the latter part of his career, served as a consultant to New Jersey and was involved in their legislative efforts in the early 40s. No doubt his language for variances was adopted at that time. In fact, although the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law change the arrangement of the language somewhat, even today it remains pretty much the same.
I've also spent some time in Cincinnati reviewing the Bettman archives at the University of Cincinnati. There is a folder with considerable effort directed at drafting the Tennessee legislation.
It is likely that I am the only person around who has any real interest in this, but I am certainly indebted to the author of this small book, Eleanor Keeble Guess, who authored this as her Masters thesis.
Before concluding this diversion into history, let me point out one other reference in the book. At page 12, Ms. Guess says:
The effectiveness of the County Zoning Act is partially lost by the inclusion of the so-called "Joker clause," which states:
This Act shall not be construed as authorizing the requirement of building permits nor providing for any regulation of the erection, construction, or reconstruction of any building or other structure on lands now devoted to agricultural uses or which may hereafter be used for agricultural purposes, except on agricultural lands adjacent or in proximity to state federal-aid highways, public airports or public parks; provided, that such building or structure is incidental to the agricultural enterprise. Nor shall this Act be construed as limiting or affecting in any way or controlling the agricultural uses of land.
The Joker Clause still lives; see TCA § 13-7-114. Take a look at our recent discussion of Shore v Maple Lane Farms, highlighting its continued applicability.