In a very general sense, the idea behind zoning laws is to divide buildings used for certain purposes. The three main zones are industrial, commercial and residential. While there is some overlap at times, most buildings stick to a certain type in each respective area, giving the city structure and keeping property values consistent.
That said, it is important to remember that the zoning restrictions in an area may address more than just what type of use that building can see. Other potential requirements could address:
- Where you can run utility lines
- What type of building you can build or use
- What types of accessory buildings you can construct
- How far any buildings have to be set back from the boundaries and the streets
- How far buildings have to be from the water
- What size of building is permitted
- How tall a building can be
- How many rooms a building can contain
Now, if you’re buying an existing building, you may not have to worry about some of these issues, such as how close the main building is to the street. They only come into play with extensive renovation plans. If you’re buying land and buildings on it, though, you definitely need to look into the regulations in advance. You don’t want to buy the land and then find out that the plans you have for it are not permitted.
If you do wind up running into legal issues or you want to know what options you have, take the time to really look into your legal rights and the potential steps you can take.