If Your Community Does NOT Have Zoning: Create a Zoning Plan

If your community has no zoning, it may be in your best interest to create it. Creating and implementing a zoning plan takes a lot of time, money, research, and public participation.  The process can sometimes take several years to complete. Before engaging in such a resource-heavy endeavor, make sure zoning is the right fit for your community. 

Gauge Interest In Your Community

Ultimately a zoning plan effects every part of the municipality.  So first, you may want to consider whether zoning is something your area would truly benefit from.  If people in your area do not understand or do not want zoning you may want to take a few steps back and think about engaging and educating people.  If it is clear that people understand and still are adverse to the idea, you can explore other types of local rules that can protect your community, even without zoning in place. 

Read more on creating zoning in areas where it may not be welcomed here: Creating a Zoning Plan & Community Resistance 

The more the public participates in the process of zoning creation, the better and more effective the plan will be. If you feel as though there is strong public support for the idea, you may want to learn more about the next steps in the process. 

Start The Process

The process must be started by your local government so having open and consistent communication with your elected officials is very important. Ideally, they take action in response to a clear request by their constituents for zoning. 

After that, some likely next steps include:

  • Your local government creates a planning agency if there is not one already
  • The planning agency or 'planning commission' engages a certified professional land use planner
  • The land use planner analyses the area and finds out what types of land uses are currently in place, in part by requesting input from the public
  • Land use planner submits their findings to the planning commission
  • A draft zoning ordinance is submitted from the planning commission to the local governing body. 
  • Local government considers the ordinance and votes on whether or not to enact it
  • Before enactment, a comprehensive plan is generally completed

For a more in-depth discussion, see the sections entitled "Preparation of the Zoning Ordinance" and “Adopting and Amending the Zoning Ordinance” in Zoning – Planning Series #4

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