What are Zoning Laws and How do They Work?

Robin Hill Last Updated Oct 23, 2019 (0) comment

What are Zoning Laws and how do They Work

What are zoning laws and how do they work?  Zoning laws, also known as zoning ordinances, are restrictions that dictate how you can use your land­ and applicable building requirements, such as maximum building size and height.  Zoning laws are government rules for your property.  These regulations are enacted by the local government to separate an area into residential, commercial, and industrial sections.

New York City enacted the first zoning ordinance called the 1916 Zoning Resolution (1916 ZR). The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the validity of zoning in 1926 in the landmark case Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co. Many cities and towns followed suit by developing zoning ordinances and regulations.

Purpose of Zoning Laws

Zoning laws help protect the city and manage a city’s growth. With these regulations, city planners can give careful consideration to population density, adequacy of sewage systems, pedestrian walkways, etc.

The purpose of zoning was to regulate building use, manage property density as well as protect historic buildings.  In general, it serves to promote public health and welfare.

Zoning Laws vs. Building Codes

Building codes are regulations or standards that govern the safety and structure of a building.  They work hand in hand with zoning laws. Zoning laws dictate how to use the property while building codes maintain that the building is safe for use.

How to Check Your Local Zoning Laws

It’s critical to check the zoning laws before you purchase a home. For example, if you buy a house and want to change it into a two-family home, you may run into some trouble if your property is located in a single-family residential zone. Alternatively, zoning regulations may make running a home business challenging.

To look up the zoning laws for your property, you should first check the local planning department on your city’s website or the State and Local Government on the Net’s website. You may consider calling your municipal planning department to get an official opinion. Additionally, you can also consult an attorney and contractor to help you with zoning permits, zoning clearance, and the compliance process.

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