What is zoning?

Zoning refers to rules created by local governments that instruct residents how property can and cannot be used.  Zoning does this by establishing standards for development and defining what a “permitted” use of land might that is in accordance with those standards. It can be the most effective tool to protect the health, safety, and welfare of communities for local governments. 

Zoning gets its name from the practice of dividing land into districts or zones for different types of uses. By establishing districts, local governments separate incompatible uses, encourage the most appropriate and beneficial uses of land, protect property values, and support organized development.

Some typical types of zoning districts are:

  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Agricultural
  • Industrial

A zoning plan will list and define certain land uses and each use will generally go in the district it is compatible with. 

For example, a grocery store is a type of retailer, so it would generally be limited to areas zoned commercial.

Separating the districts can ensure that your neighborhood or community doesn’t find something totally inappropriate built inside it – like a business that will pollute local water wells or disrupt people’s sleep. These zoning districts determine how individual properties can be used within that district. Good zoning regulations set clear community-wide standards and specific standards for each zoning district.

Next, learn how zoning can help protect your community.

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