Zoning


Zoning is the regulation of private land use and development by local government.  There are no federal zoning laws.


Zoning is Essential part of the Master Plan.  A master plan is comprehensive plan to guide the long-term physical development of a particular area.  Zoning increases the marketability of the property,


For example, would you want to live next to a Gas Station? Well a gas station would not want to be near you either.  Luckily there is zoning.


Zoning is a police power.  Do not think of the men in Blue when you think of Police Power.  The police power is the power that is held by the state to legislate for the purpose of preserving the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare.


Zoning for Land use is generally divided into:

Residential

Commercial

Agricultural

Industrial

Special use properties


Each of these land uses are subdivided into classifications.  For example a multi family unit would be zoned as R-3 the R would be for residential


Special purpose properties would be for properties that are there to benefit the public such as:

Schools

Hospitals

Police Stations

.

Down Zoning is a change in the zoning to permit less intensive developments than are currently permitted.  A zone going from commercial to residential is an example of Down Zoning.


Cluster zoning allows for planned unit development or "PUDS"


Zoning ordinances are a set of laws which control the:

Height of buildings

Setback

Density

Floor area ratios

Buffers

Buffer zones

Variances


A set back is a the distance from the edge of the road or sidewalk to the structure that was build, it can also be from the center of the road, check with your local zoning to see where the setback line is for you.


Density is usually associated with subdivisions, restricting the number of houses per acre that may be built within the subdivision.


A floor area ratio is the ratio of the square footage to the land area.

The Floor Area Ratio can be used in zoning to limit the amount of construction in a certain area.


A buffer is found between two lots, such as a fence, wall or a row of trees.


A buffer zone is a space of land between two use districts such as a park, playground or a highway.


Variance


A variance is an exception that is granted from the zoning rules.  A variance is granted when the situation is exceptional and if granting that variance will not affect the rest of the community.


For example suppose a "low density residential" zone requires that a house have a setback of no less than 100 feet. If a particular property were only 100 feet deep, it would be impossible to build a house on the property. A variance exempting the property from the setback regulation would allow a house to be built.  Variances are granted lot by lot


A non-conforming use will allow an owner to continue a land use that existed previously but not longer conforms to zoning.

For example if your house is in a residential area, but then zoning changes to commercial, you would not have to convert your house into a gas station in order to conform.  You would be granted non-conforming use to keep using it as a residential for a certain period of time.


The zoning board will determine just how long the non-conforming use will last.


Performance standards regulate noise and air pollution for residential, commercial and industrial properties.


Any owner who wants to build on land must secure a building permit.  A building permit allows local zoning to monitor compliance with zoning codes.


Building codes are used to ensure minimum standards of public safety.  An example of a building code would be the need of a hand rail by a stairway.


A certificate of occupancy is issued after the building has been inspected and it complies with local building codes

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