Back in its early days as a European settlement Connecticut didn’t need much in the way of land-use rules. To live in any of its towns, people had to become an “admitted inhabitant,” getting permission from those who already lived there. Those who moved in without permission were “warned out” by town leaders.
This wasn’t quite as bigoted and brutal as it looks today, for life back then was primitive, with sustenance wrested from the ground, rivers, and woods only through the greatest effort, even as the residents, compelled to join Christian religious communities, knew that they were obliged not to let people die in the muddy courses that passed for roads. Society had little surplus and survival required accepting only those newcomers who seemed most able to support themselves.
Of course today life in Connecticut is infinitely easier even in what seems like hard times, but municipal zoning rules still distantly echo the “admitted inhabitant” and “warning out” procedures of old. Controversy about them has flared up in recent days because Governor Malloy has vetoed legislation overwhelmingly passed by the General Assembly that would enable suburbs and rural towns to keep delaying construction of inexpensive housing.
State law tells towns to have 10 percent of their housing affordable by low- and…