What is Protective Zoning Language?

What is Protective Zoning Language?

Protective Zoning can come in many shapes and sizes. Generally, it takes the form of standards that developers must adhere to and exist with the goal of protecting the quality of life for residents.

For the purposes of this guide, portions of the zoning code that provide increased protection for your health, safety, and property interests will be referred to as protective language.


Local authorities in Peters Township wanted to add protective language to their zoning code. The following is an example from Peters Township showing how protective language might get added to the zoning code:

Peters Township, having the power “to enact zoning ordinances that protect and promote the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the residents” of the Township, “deems it appropriate to enact regulations regarding activities associated with mineral [oil and gas] extraction.” These regulations are enacted on the belief “that mineral extraction activity without proper regulation may pose hazards to the health, safety, morals and general welfare of residents of the Township.”

Having determined that adding protective language to the zoning code was in the best interest of the community, changes were made to the code. These changes included tests for water quality, limitations on night-time lighting, assurance of proper water drainage, and limitations on dust, vibration and noise, as well as odors. Additionally, protective language may require that oil and gas wells can only be drilled in specific locations, or that they have to be a certain distance from residential homes or schools.


Zoning codes with protective language can provide a sigh of relief to those who worry that oil and gas companies may drill in their communities. If your community has zoning it is important to determine whether or not the zoning code protects your interests. If your community doesn’t have protective language in its zoning code, it may be important to meet with community members to discuss adding protective language to your zoning code.

Next: How to determine if your zoning is protective or not

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