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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 ?
(144) While variations within zoning regimes make it difficult to generalize, there are several zoning ordinances that commonly function to either assist or impede urban agriculture: categorization of agriculture as a land use; regulation of the sale of produce; and limits on the keeping of animals.
The Planning and Zoning Law itself precludes consideration of a zoning ordinance which conflicts with a general plan as a pro tanto repeal or implied amendment of the general plan.
The zoning ordinance also includes "prohibited uses" in each classification.
Particularly pertinent here is the principle that "zoning ordinances are much less suspect when they focus on the use than when they command inquiry into who are the users."
Euclid's characterization of a zoning ordinance as a legislative judgment established the presumption of constitutionality and the related tradition of judicial deference in land use cases.
[A] court may impose a penalty of imprisonment on a defendant found guilty of violating a zoning ordinance if the violation was proven to have occurred on the date charged in the accusatory instrument.
Zoning lawsuits often include allegations that a local zoning ordinance effectively prevents or excludes a particular use.
The proposed zoning ordinance, which is 275 pages in length and is accompanied by detailed maps, had been developed by the Houston Department of Planning and Development (1993) over a two-year period with the advice and participation of a wide spectrum of Houston residents.
City Councilor Conrado Baluran, chair of the council's committee on transportation and communications, said there is a need to amend the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance of Davao City Series of 2013, specifically on the requirements of the telecommunications companies to put up cell site towers.
Under the village's zoning ordinance, however, tattoo parlors are only allowed as a special use within a business service district, such as along the Route 31 corridor, Community Development Director Tim Scott said.
In the city's latest comprehensive zoning ordinance, the four barangays-UP Village, Teachers Village (East and West) and Sikatuna Village-which Maginhawa Street traverses are categorized as Medium Density Residential Zone, characterized by multi-family housing like duplexes, townhouses or row houses.