What Land Uses Do Zoning Laws Regulate?

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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: Oct 30, 2013

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Zoning laws are an important part of urban and community planning. Zoning laws help to create a community that is a safe, logical, and a comfortable place to live and work. Without zoning laws, factories could spring up next to homes and neighborhoods, and playgrounds could be dotted amidst bars and nightclubs. The local zoning ordinance can spell out exactly what can be done with a given piece of land. For example, a residential zone must have only residential property, while you cannot typically live in a commercial zone. In addition, the ordinance and zoning regulations may list the appropriate or reasonable uses for a given tract of land. They may create open space such as a park or “buffer” zone between buildings as part of urban planning.

Other Regulations Within the Scope of Zoning Laws

Besides restricting uses for land and buildings, zoning laws may also regulate:

  • The dimensional requirements for lots and for buildings on property located within the town (i.e., in some areas, you may not be able to build a home unless it is on at least an acre of land).
  • The density of development, and whether you can have pigeons, dogs, sheep or llamas.
  • The extraction of natural resources from land within the zoned area.
  • The space available for hospitals, parks, schools, and open space.
  • The protection and preservation of places of historical significance within the community.

If you have concerns about specific zoning rules or requirements in your area, contact your local zoning board.

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