In this lesson, we'll discuss the definition, codes and types of land use zoning. We'll cover the purpose of land zoning and how it works, as well as explore some common types of land zones.
What is Land Zoning?
Shawn owns a piece of undeveloped land outside of town that consists mostly of trees; he also owns a home in a residential area and a piece of commercial property. Shawn's undeveloped land differs from his home and commercial property because each piece of land is zoned differently. Land zoning is how local governments, such as city councils, restrict the physical development and use of specific parcels of land. A parcel of land is best described as a piece or an area of land that is zoned for a designated purpose.
How Do Zoning Laws Work?
Zoning laws can be used to regulate lot sizes and establish ordinances about protecting wildlife and removing natural resources. They can also restrict the number and types of domestic or farm animals landowners can have on their property. For example, residential zones may only allow for domestic pets, such as dogs and cats, while residents in rural zones can have horses, cows or sheep. Zoning regulations can also protect residential areas from some of the disruptions associated with commercial or home-based businesses.
While there are no universal zoning codes, there are different types of land use zones, such as residential, historical, industrial and commercial. Let's take a closer look at some of these areas.
Residential and Historic Zones
Residential zones typically include co-op and rental apartments, condominiums, mobile home parks and single-family homes. Some residential zones may also allow for home-based businesses. Regulations for the latter can include those related to noise, operational hours, parking and signage. 'R' is a common code used for residential zoning.
Buildings and residences that are at least 50 years old can often be found in historic zones. Zoning regulations for historical land use may have stricter rules about home maintenance, preservation and restoration. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 established the National Register to help cities and private entities identify, evaluate and protect historic buildings and districts. Homeowners in historic zones may qualify for federal tax credits and deductions.
Commercial and Industrial Zones
Commercial zones can include apartment complexes, offices, shopping centers, and warehouses. Entertainment facilities, such as hotels and nightclubs, can also be found in commercial zones.
Industrial zones may include commercial businesses, manufacturers or storage centers. They often take in to consideration the height of the buildings and how much space they occupy on a lot, as well as the level of noise. Zones used for business purposes are usually designated as:
- LI - Light industrial (businesses and offices)
- CI - Commercial industrial (warehouses and manufacturing)
- GI - General industrial (heavy manufacturing and mining)
Agriculture and Rural Zones
Agricultural zones are designed to protect farming communities from residential development. Minimum lot sizes are usually large, and regulations regarding density tend to be strict. Agricultural zones differ from rural zones in that rural zones can be altered from their natural state. Rural land use zones are often designated for parcels of land that are used to raise livestock or grow crops; they also allow for residential structures.
Combination and Other Zones
Some parcels of land can be a combination of land use zones. For example, Shawn's private land could be designated as both an agricultural and rural area. His home might be located in both a residential and historic zone, and his business property zoned for commercial and industrial use.
Some high-end communities are esthetic zones, where color palettes, landscape designs, and materials are strictly regulated, even the fences and mailboxes. In these areas, architectural plans for new buildings may require prior approval from a review committee.
Land use zones are the codes that the government uses to classify parcels of land. Zoning regulations can be used to separate business from farming or residential areas, protect natural resources and wildlife, designate lot sizes or regulate the types of animals owned by landowners. There are no universal codes used for land use; local governments oversee zoning designations and regulations. In general, parcels can be zoned as agricultural, commercial, industrial and residential areas; historic and rural are other types of zones.
Multi-use parcels of land can be found in combination zones. Esthetic zones include high-end communities that tightly regulate the exterior look of its buildings.