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Apr 15, 2023

You may have heard the phrase “it’s not zoned for that” as in “Can I build a factory next to my house?” or “Can I put a trailer park in my north forty?”  But we may not understand the difference between the town’s master plan, land use requirements and zoning regulations. So let’s break that down. The State of Connecticut mandates that every ten years each community adopt its master plan as a blueprint for aspirations for growth, preservation, and sustainability. The master plan details in broad terms how land can be used-land use-for housing, retail, transportation, education and recreation. It also identifies environmentally sensitive areas like wetlands that should not be built on as well as historically significant areas like historic districts whose architectural character should be safeguarded. But it’s the town’s zoning regulations that pinpoint exacting what can be constructed and where.

But zoning also has a dark side. What is “exclusionary zoning”?

In this episode, Dr. Jack Dougherty, Professor and Director of the Educational Studies Program at Trinity College, is going to uncover the story of how Connecticut passed legislation that allowed zoning in the 1920’s and how West Hartford became the first town to adopt zoning regulations. He and his students use tools from digital history, data visualization, and web writing to explore the relationship between cities, suburbs, and schools in metropolitan Hartford, Connecticut. Read more about this in his feature article in the Spring 2023 issue of Connecticut Explored magazine

And read his feature article about redlining in this Connecticut Explored article here

Listen to his Grating the Nutmeg episode on redlining here

Dougherty is a Connecticut Explored 20 x 20 Innovation in Connecticut History Honoree for his work in On The Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs a digital-first, open-access book-in-progress. It is available online at

The book combines historical narrative, interactive maps, and video interviews to tell the story of schooling and housing boundaries that shaped American metropolitan life during the past century, along with the civil rights struggles of families and activists to cross over, redraw, or erase these powerful lines.

Connecticut Explored, the nonprofit organization that publishes Connecticut Explored magazine, announced its “20 for 20: Innovation in Connecticut History,” series highlighting 20 “Game Changers” whose work is advancing the study, interpretation, and dissemination of Connecticut history. The initiative, funded by Connecticut Humanities and sponsored by Trinity College, is the centerpiece of Connecticut Explored’s year-long celebration of its 20th anniversary. Subscribe at


Fresh episodes of Grating the Nutmeg are brought to you every two weeks with support from our listeners. You can help us continue to produce the podcast by donating directly to Grating the Nutmeg on the Connecticut Explored website at   Click the donate button at the top and then look for the Grating the Nutmeg donation link at the bottom. Donations in any amount are greatly appreciated-we thank you!


This episode of Grating the Nutmeg was produced by Mary Donohue and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan at

Donohue may be reached at