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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.
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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.

The Complete Real Estate Encyclopedia by Denise L. Evans, JD & O. William Evans, JD. Copyright © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
(149) See NORDAHL, supra note 55, at 50-51; Gene Gleeson, Urban Farm Halted Over Zoning Laws, KABC-TV/DT (Aug.
During this review I learned a great deal about how our zoning laws are behind the curve.
With ability to relocate to places with more hospitable legal institutions, weak zoning laws play a key role in the land use decisionmaking process.
Citing what they said were noise, dust and glare problems related to the facility, several abutters petitioned the board seeking a declaratory order that local zoning laws and other regulations were not pre-empted with respect to the railroad's pellet-bagging operation.
The site of the posh former Woodcrest Country Club in Muttontown could be divided into a maximum of 35, three-acre parcels, per local zoning laws, and according to Ellen Zipes, a broker with Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty, each of those plots could garner bids of as much as $2 million.
Police suspect huge sums of money changed hands to promote several land projects, including a large development in Jerusalem that required a radical change in zoning laws. Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem at the time.
The city of Dover has decided to move forward with a set of downtown zoning laws that is unlike any other city in the area.
It's not surprising that the Oberlin project lasted a decade, because zoning laws and building departments are not yet oriented to the green approach.
Companies that are considered railroads are able to receive an exemption under the board's mandate that allows them to ignore virtually all federal, state and local environmental, permitting and zoning laws. The exception is made is to ensure that such governmental entities don't put unfair burdens on moving the nation's commerce.
HIGH FALLS, N.Y.-Thanks to high-wattage celebrities, appreciative locals and favorable zoning laws, a high-end kitchen store in New York's Ulster County with a nutty name has found the right home.
Enter Huntsburg's zoning laws. Township rules say home-based woodworking shops cannot exceed 1,000 square feet of floor space.
Local Wisconsin newspaper the Janesville Gazette reported last week that five above-ground storage tanks proposed as part of a new $60-million ethanol production facility to be built in Milton, WI are illegal under the city's zoning laws. Additionally, the newspaper said local officials remain unsure whether United Ethanol, the firm working to build the ethanol plant, will be granted a variance for the tanks.