Are you planning to build an addition to your home? Would you like to buy a piece of land to start your own business?
Before you can do either of these things, you first need to research (and understand) the zoning codes in your locale.
What are zoning codes, exactly, and what impact will they have on your plans? Keep reading to find out!
What Are Zoning Codes?
Simply put, zoning laws divide the land into different areas for different purposes. These codes state where you can build a structure (such as a home or a business), how large it can be, and what you can use it for.
For example, you probably know that “residential districts” are for houses and apartments. If you’re buying land to build a home, it needs to fall into this type of local zoning. The same goes for any land you plan to use for business, agriculture, or manufacturing.
Understanding Zoning Laws
With this information in mind, let’s briefly consider some of the most common classifications for local zoning.
Commonly called a commercial district or business district, this is land that’s set aside for commercial use. Examples include shopping centers, restaurants, and office buildings. The zoning laws here are usually very strict, with specific requirements for building height, setback, and parking.
Residental districts are areas for single-family or multi-family homes. These might include detached houses, townhomes, duplexes, apartment buildings, or condominiums.
Institution zones cover shared public facilities such as libraries, museums, schools, community centers, or places of worship. It could also include recreational facilities like a public pool.
Usually centered far away from residential areas, industrial zones are for businesses that require light-to-heavy industry. Examples include warehouses, wholesalers, and manufacturing facilities.
If there’s a farming area nearby, your city will no doubt have agricultural zoning laws in place. These govern the types of crops, livestock, or other animals you can have on the land. The laws also protect the land from anything that could harm it or conflict with its intended purpose.
If there are many historic structures or buildings in your town, some areas may be set aside as historic districts. This provides special protection for these structures, along with plans to maintain or restore them.
7. Open Space
Some communities may set aside “open space” that can’t be developed for other purposes. Examples include public parks, gardens, playgrounds, or vacant lots.
Sometimes, different zones that are compatible with each other are allowed to overlap. For example, you may see a downtown district that allows retail businesses on the ground floor and residential apartments on the upper floors.
Local Zoning 101: Class Dismissed
There’s a lot more to learn about zoning codes, but at least now you have a basic understanding of how local zoning works. If you’re planning to buy a piece of land or build something new, be sure to research the specific zoning laws in your city and county.
Now that you know more about residential and municipal zoning codes, what’s next? Keep browsing our site for more informative articles like this one!