What is Zoning? – Small Business Trends

Zoning determines how the property is used. There are different categories that cover everything from family neighborhoods to commercial zoning in industrial areas.

Zoning can do many different things. There are classifications that can affect a homeowner or zoning can restrict a construction company from building in certain areas. It can even prohibit certain types of property from being used for business.

It all started with a supreme court decision in 1926. Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co. established the rationale for zoning. This blog will tell you everything you need to know as zoning relates to commercial zones and family zones.

Zoning, a quick overview

Simply put, zoning is a way of describing land use. It’s all a matter of urbanism. It’s the way governments dictate how plots are developed.

Zoning districts are designed so that new developments do not interfere with districts already in use. Zoning restrictions can limit commercial and industrial development. They can also restrict affordable housing in some cases.

Common zoning terms

  • Zoning regulations: Zoning regulations are specific about things like lot size and floor area ratio (FAR) for buildings. They are important for construction in urban areas. These also include maximum height requirements.
  • Zoning Laws: These laws are specifically designed to divide parcels into zones. Basically, these laws dictate what type of buildings can exist in a municipality or city.
  • Ordinances: It is a legal framework consisting of maps showing different zoning districts. The accompanying text details their uses and the type of structures in each of the districts.
  • Zoning classifications: Important for residential development and general land use. These may include residential, light industrial, agricultural uses and a zoning classification for hotel/hospitality uses.
  • Area of ​​districts and overlaps: These two terms work together. They can be used to plan scheme overlays for residential areas. Overlapping zoning creates special districts.
  • Municipalities: This is the term for a government area that divides land into zones. Like residential neighborhoods.

Different types of zoning codes

Zoning codes are the rules about how a property is used. Like single-family residential areas and others for different types of development. The following are some for specific neighborhoods, industrial, commercial and agricultural development.


There are usually different types of housing in any development. In each there are different residential neighborhoods. These can be made up of a mix of single-family homes and other areas of any city. The rules are different for a higher density development like an apartment building.


A commercial area is under this heading. In these types of areas, you will also find buildings such as office buildings, restaurants, and shopping malls.

Industrial Zones.

Permitted uses here include those for heavy, medium and light industries. An industrial zone keeps warehouses and factories away from single-family homes in an area. Warehouses and wholesale real estate may be included in industrial zones.

Zoning for mixed uses

Land uses here can combine several options in one space. This type of development plan can provide more affordable housing.

The purpose of zoning laws

The most important purpose of zoning is to allow local, federal, and city authorities to use and allocate land and property. These planning schemes create separate zones and avoid conflicting land uses. These are detailed and comprehensive.

Zoning laws are useful for urban planning as far as the private sector is concerned. They also work in the public sphere. The type of zoning allowed determines where structures and buildings can be located. Another main purpose is that a particular area can dictate property values.

Who controls zoning ordinances?

Local authorities control ordinances. A local government or municipality can influence how an open space or neighborhood is used.

How zoning laws work

That’s how these laws work. A zoning ordinance begins with a master plan, which establishes land use rules.

  • Next comes a full plan, with zoning maps.
  • A zoning ordinance is a next part. Here are the details of how something like a residential neighborhood is created.

These ordinances allow the coexistence of different areas. But they are usually very specific. For example, some communities prohibit mobile homes on private land. So be sure to always check before proceeding with any land use plan.

Zoning Law Restrictions and Your Business

Zoning rules may affect your business, but you can apply for a variance that suits your business. Keep in mind that a zoning ordinance can change over time. These can vary depending on when a company changes hands. If you want to start on the ground floor, you need a building permit.

It is important to keep up to date with other regulations and statutes. Make sure you’re up to date with the changes too. In addition, there are issues to be aware of. Whether you are relocating your business within a city or moving nationally. You may want to look into mixed-use zoning laws. In this way, a business and a home can fill open spaces.

For a business, there are also commercial use requirements. These include parking mandates, building size and more.

How to check your local zoning regulations

Local governments will fill you in. Here are some steps to follow.

  • Start with the city’s zoning laws and see which ones may apply.
  • Next, look for city, county, or town ordinances that apply to land use.
  • Once you have information, call a city planning department or local building department.
  • You can also research other ordinances regarding previous land use.

The best ways to change zoning regulations

Governments understand that many zoning designation laws may become dated. In general, a small business or individual must apply for a rezoning.

The first step is to speak to someone in a planning department. They will tell you how to prepare. After that, an application for a zoning map amendment can be filed.


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