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Types of zoning and building restrictions

Cities can set their own zoning rules that help to guide future development. Buildings both constructed and used within those zones have to follow the regulations.

Speaking broadly, the three major zones are industrial, commercial and residential. The zones keep these three areas apart, allowing people to live in blocks of other homes, rather than being surrounded by industrial plants and businesses.

There is, of course, some variation in certain areas, which may be zoned for multiple uses. For instance, an apartment building may have shops and stores on the ground floor. Some small companies are run directly out of people's homes. Naturally, there are lines within the city where the zones meet, so it is possible to find housing directly across the street from commercial spaces.

There can also be more specific restrictions inside of the zones. For instance, a historical district may require homeowners to only make repairs with historically-accurate materials and to refrain from installing modern technology, such as satellite dishes for television channels. Other restrictions may govern:

  • Where utility lines are run.
  • How tall buildings can be.
  • What type of buildings can be constructed.
  • How many rooms these buildings can have.
  • How far structures have to be set back from the road.

Whenever you are buying a new building or having one constructed, it is incredibly important to look into the local zoning laws so that you understand exactly how to proceed. This is especially true for business owners who are looking to buy buildings and then convert them into some other type of use, which may be restricted or not permitted at all.

Source: FindLaw, "Land Use and Zoning Basics," accessed May 11, 2018

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