Zoning categories and symbols vary among communities. A C-1 zone in one city is not necessarily the same as a C-1 in another. Local governments use letters of the alphabet as codes to identify the use allowed in a physical geographic area — such as:
These symbols are usually paired with a number. The number can specify the level of use, or it may indicate a certain amount of acreage or square footage for that particular property.Residential ZoningResidential zones can include:
Residential zoning can cover issues such as whether mobile homes can be placed on the property and the number of structures allowed on a certain property.Zoning laws typically limit the type of animals allowed at a residence. Domestic pets such as dogs, birds, and cats are generally not regulated, but chickens, sheep, horses, llamas, pigs, and cows are subject to certain requirements. Many laws prohibit keeping these farm animals in residential neighborhoods. Others limit the number of animals based on the size of the property.
Residential Zoning and Home-Based Businesses
Zoning laws on home-based businesses can depend on:
Some zoning ordinances prohibit all in-home businesses in residential areas. Others limit the type of business and business hours. They may also require separate parking and entrance facilities. Rules regarding home-based businesses for condominiums are typically even more restrictive than private residences.Commercial ZoningCommercial zoning usually has several categories and depends on the business use of the property, and often the number of business patrons. Almost any kind of real estate (other than single-family homes and single-family lots) can be considered commercial real estate.
Examples of commercial zoning include:
The availability of parking may affect the type of commercial zoning that is allowed. Additionally, there can be rules regarding the proximity of certain types of businesses to others. Many zoning laws ban or limit adult entertainment establishments to a certain geographical area. Others bar such types of land uses within a certain distance of existing schools or churches.
Like commercial zoning, industrial zoning can be specific to the type of business. Environmental factors, including noise concerns and industrial use, determine into which industrial zone a business falls. Manufacturing plants and many storage facilities have industrial zoning. Certain businesses like airports may have their own designation.Industrial zoning often depends on the floor area ratio (which is the land area covered by all buildings on a lot) and building height. Additionally, set-back requirements are higher for industrial zoned properties.
Agricultural zoning is generally used by communities that are concerned about maintaining the economic viability of the agricultural industry. Agricultural zoning typically limits the density of development. It also restricts non-farm uses of the land. In many agricultural zoning ordinances, the density is controlled by setting a large minimum lot size for a residential dwelling unit. Densities may vary depending upon the type of agricultural operation. Agricultural zoning can protect farming communities from becoming fragmented by residential development. In many states, agricultural zoning is necessary for federal voluntary incentive programs, subsidy programs, and programs that provide for additional tax abatements.
The "rural" zoning district is often used for farms or ranches. In certain parts of the country, this class includes residences zoned to allow horses or cattle.Combination ZoningAny number of zoning designations have mixed-use. Therefore, they can be combined to form some sort of combination zone. Many combination zones are unique to the community adopting the particular class.
Increasingly popular in upscale communities, aesthetic zoning covers:
Aesthetic zoning codes may require that building plans be submitted and approved by an architectural review committee. Wireless communication receiving devices can often be impacted by these types of zoning rules.Permitted and Accessory UsesPermitted and Accessory uses are built-in exceptions within a certain zoning category. For example, hotel property that is not zoned for a bar may be allowed to have a bar that is connected to the hotel as an accessory or permitted use.
Zoning issues can arise at any time and they can affect what you can do on your land and what your neighbors can do on theirs. In some circumstances, you can petition to enforce zoning or seek to have the zoning of property changed. For help sorting through your zoning questions and issues, it's a good idea to reach out to an experienced land use and zoning attorney near you.