Zoning rules and areas explained

Zoning rules are among the most influential ways that government influences business, everyday life, and the economy. Zoning rules organize how a city is developed, to ensure that residences are not built next to factories or waste disposal sites. The goal of zoning rules is to create an orderly division of property parcels to maximize the economic potential and habitability of the city. The reality is that zoning rules are complex, often inscrutable, and can sink a business if not fully understood.

Commercial zoning rules (also called land use rules) control the type of activity that businesses can undertake. Zoning rules also regulate features within and without of buildings. For instance, zoning rules may limit the height of buildings, may require fire escapes, and determine setbacks from streets. There are five general types of zoning areas:

  • Residential;
  • Recreational;
  • Commercial;
  • Industrial; and
  • Agricultural.

This post will discuss each zoning type in turn. Residential areas are places in which people can live; they can be either single or multi-home family structures. Recreationally refers to areas that are set aside for recreational activities, i.e. parks. Commercial zones are for commercial activities, e.g. restaurants, retail stores, and offices. Industrial purposes are areas set aside for manufacturing and other heavy machinery operations. Finally, agricultural zones are parcels that are set aside for farming activities (crops and livestock).

If you are considering a real estate investment, then you should contact a lawyer before you close the purchase. Zoning rules make or break real estate investments. An attorney can review the zoning maps and determine if the area in which you are purchasing is up for rezoning or if you can obtain a conditional use permit. The last thing your business needs is an investment it cannot utilize to its full potential due to an oversight in the zoning rules. A lawyer can investigate and help you make the best investment for your company.


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