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Laws at the municipal level regulating the uses of real property in certain areas. For example, land in a certain area may be zoned only for commercial use or residential use. Zoning laws exist to improve the quality of life in a local area; for instance, they guard against an oil refinery being placed in an area where families with children live. Depending on the laws of the municipality, zoning laws may be suspended at certain times for certain developments, especially those likely to result in an economic boon for the community.


The regulation of the uses of property; the density of populations employing those uses; and the kinds,sizes,and proportions of structures that can be erected on property.Zoning was first put into place in New York City in 1916 as a reaction against the construction of the Equitable Building, because its 41-story height cast shadows over neighboring residences and affected people's quality of life.The concept soon caught on and was enacted by nearly every city and town in America as a function of their police power. Today, Houston,Texas, is the only major American city with no zoning regulations at all.

• Acurrent use of property that is no longer permitted after a zoning change may be allowed to continue for some period of time. Purchasers of such properties should make sure the use will still be allowed, if that is important. Purchasers of nearby properties should not make assumptions about zoning merely because of what already exists nearby.

• Zoning variances—permission for nonconforming uses—are typically granted only if it would be a hardship on the property to do otherwise. An economic hardship on the owner is irrelevant. Hardship is usually found only when the property has no other practical use other than the one planned and there is a need in the community for that use.

• Zoning variances, when granted, usually contain some requirements not otherwise demanded of other property owners, including such things as facade renovation of an older building, the necessity for off-street parking, or any number of other demands.

• Euclidean zoning, also known as building block zoning, is the most common. It is named for the town of Euclid, Ohio, which provided the test case for Supreme Court review and confirmation as constitutional. Land is divided into specific geographical districts with permitted uses within each type of district. Districts are usually designated R1 for single-family residential, R2 for two-family homes, R3 for multifamily, and so on. Its proponents like the long history of interpretation and the ease of implementation. Its critics say it lacks flexibility and fossilizes outdated theories of land-use planning.

• Performance zoning uses goal-oriented criteria to establish guidelines for the intensity of land use and the impact on infrastructure and on surrounding areas. It employs four major concepts: open-space ratio, impervious surface ratio (roads and parking lots), floor area ratio, and density. Zoning districts have descriptions such as wilderness districts, agricultural districts, and development districts. Proponents like the flexibility, but critics say the system is too complicated.

• Incentive zoning is a rewards-based system that seeks to encourage development to meet a city's needs. The system starts with standard restrictions on building size and height and occupancy densities, and then offers bonuses if developers will include needed amenities such as low-income housing, transit access, or beautification features. By agreeing to the bonus items, the developer may increase the densities or gain other variances.

• Design-based zoning is used in newer mixed-use urban planning models. It concentrates on building design and compatibility in an area rather than specific uses. Zoning districts might be called traditional neighborhood, suburban neighborhood, or transit-oriented development.

References in periodicals archive ?
With more than 5,000 land area, following the Zoning Ordinance requirement of FAR 4 and land occupancy of 60 percent, Torre de Manila should only be at least 18-story high.
Although zoning ordinances may be amended and thereby do not provide for perpetual preservation of land, the purposes of zoning include delineation of appropriate locations for perpetual preservation.
For example, where the purchaser has contractually agreed to purchase property subject to all zoning ordinances enacted by the municipality, even if a zoning ordinance were enacted by a municipality just prior to the signing of the contract, the purchaser may not then have the option to refuse title to the property.
The state zoning enabling acts provide specific provisions that vest authority with municipalities to include provisions in their zoning ordinances that mandate approval of a site plan prior to approval of a land use request, provided such provisions identify, in part, the procedures and requirements for submission and approval of the site plan.
The bottom line for cities is that zoning ordinances would essentially be inapplicable to churches, synagogues or other religious-based uses wishing to locate or expand in a particular locality.
With the use of the Urban Neighborhood and Open districts, apparently the idea was to set up a comprehensive zoning ordinance that is in fact only "partial" zoning, and thereby mollify some of the opponents of zoning such as land developers and others who favor relatively unrestricted opportunities for development.
Douglass Township then failed to take the necessary steps to enforce its zoning ordinance despite numerous requests from the Noonans to do so, according to PennFuture.
The Planning Board Wednesday night recommended two changes to the city's zoning ordinances intended to make it easier and less costly for small businesses to operate in the city.
The board interprets zoning ordinances and policies for unique situations or special cases in Wake County, and has the power to decide variances, special exceptions and appeals.
After an exhaustive discussion of takings law, impact fees, and exactions, the authors conclude that local governments should not adopt mandatory inclusionary zoning ordinances.
In addition, the Town argued that a parcel is not a lot under the zoning ordinances unless it can be occupied by a building, and so a stream cannot be included in the calculation of a lot's area or lakeshore frontage.