April 14

3 Reasons Zoning Laws Are Needed

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It is important to understand what zoning laws are and how they impact your decision to build a home, purchase property, or expand your business. Zoning laws regulate how communities and governments direct the development of real estate. The sole purpose of zoning laws are to protect the welfare of people in a community as it relates to land use.

Zoning Laws and Ordinances

Zoning is the division of a municipality into districts, with different standards for land uses. Zoning is generally preceded by planning sessions.

Zoning laws provide rules about using a piece of land or property. These are the main types of zoning laws:

  • Residential: Includes single-family homes
  • Commercial: For business operations, including retail or office
  • Industrial: Includes certain types of operations, such as manufacturing
  • Agricultural: For farming purposes

Some states require that zoning be consistent with a land-use plan that is developed with the public’s input. A land-use plan will create areas for different types of industrial, commercial, recreation, and residential uses.

Within zoning laws are ordinances that have specific requirements for building a structure in that zone. Some ordinances include:

  • Setbacks: Defines required minimum distances structures must be set apart from lot lines
  • Easements: A legal right to use another person’s land for a specific limited purpose
  • Lot Coverage Ratio: The allowable percentage of a lot that is occupied by built structures and paving
  • Building Coverage: The allowable percentage of a lot that may be covered by buildings
  • Floor Area Ratio: The ratio of total building floor area to the area of the lot
  • Building Height: The maximum vertical distance from ground level at the front wall of the building to the highest point of the structure.

Importance of Zoning Laws

Zoning laws are a way that communities and governments direct the development of real estate. They have a significant impact on the operation of a business or on developers wanting to build in the area. Zoning laws serve specific purposes that affect a community’s ability to expand or restructure the land.

1. Proper Use of Land

The implementation of zoning regulations allows specific areas or zones within a city or community to be designated for an explicit use. Thoughtful planning related to zoning regulations ensures the development of necessary and sufficient infrastructure to support residents, businesses, and industrial facilities.

Development within a specific zoned area can be bound by certain restrictions and rules. For example, an area that is zoned for residential use might only include the development of single-family dwellings. This protects residents and their families from unwanted commercial traffic and other environmental hazards from being built too close to them. Other restrictions can include the size, height, and type of building materials used to build a home within a zoned area.

2. Safety of Residents

Zoning laws, in general, are designed to separate residential properties from commercial properties.  They are intended to prevent oil refineries, manufacturing plants, or other types of businesses from building in residential neighborhoods. These types of businesses can impact home values, noise levels, air pollution, and the safety of children in the area.

Besides restricting the land use, zoning laws may also regulate the dimensional requirements of the lot and structure on the property.  Such restrictions may include minimum lot area, off-street parking, the number of buildings on a lot, and the number of dwelling units in a certain area.  In areas of historic or cultural significance, zoning regulations may require that those features be preserved.

3. Influence on the Value of Real Estate

The presence of zoning laws can also influence prices when purchasing a property. Some real estate can be sold at a premium price if the city’s revitalization plan calls for redevelopment and gentrification. Commercial and residential property values can increase when businesses and new homes are allowed to be built or renovated within a certain area.

The rezoning of neighborhoods often spurs population growth and trends toward urbanization. Too much uncontrolled growth in terms of homes, businesses, and traffic can harm the health and welfare of a community. All parties involve benefit from zoning laws.

Consult with the Planning Professionals

If you are considering purchasing a new property or making improvements to an existing one, it’s essential to understand the zoning laws attached to the land.  Otherwise, you may end up with a property that is not zoned for its intended use.

Pickett, Ray, and Silver has been working with all the municipalities in the area for 52 years to ensure proper use of the zoning regulations. We can assist with land planning, surveying, and civil engineering needs for your development project.

Contact us today for a consultation.


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