Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 19, 2018

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Zoning is used to regulate land use by dividing the area into different districts such as a residential, commercial, and industrial zone. Within each of these district categories, land is zoned for particular property uses. The district can also allow certain permitted uses for the land, which gives the owner the ability to use the property for his intended use. For instance, a church or school is permitted within a residential zone, and a day care center may be allowed in a single-family residential area. In these cases, neither a variance nor a zoning change is required for the permitted use.

Permitted Uses Affected by Zoning

Each area of a community is zoned by the community’s zoning commission, who determines appropriate uses for each zone, based on both current structures and community planning. Specific zoning laws are enacted to protect the interests of the people who live or work within a given location. For example, permitted use laws for a dense residential district do not allow an outdoor concert to exceed a specifically set decibel level established within that community’s noise ordinance. A residential developer cannot obtain a permit to build a residential dwelling or a multiple family complex unit within an industrial or commercially zoned area of the community. Certain areas may have a narrower range of permitted uses, like residential zones and hybrid zoned areas may have a broader range of permitted uses. For instance, personal dwellings that are built above different commercial businesses such as taverns and storefronts are usually permitted in what is referred to as a commercial/residential zone. An area that has been designated as an industrial zone but that has not been developed yet could be rezoned if the entity that purchases the land wishes to build a realty development.