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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 ?
Yuba City's zoning ordinance (104) is typical in that it employs a table to describe the allowable uses in a particular zone.
A zoning ordinance restricts a landowner, conferring a burden.
33) If the zoning ordinance has actually been violated, then title may be unmarketable,(34) The rationale is that there is a reasonable chance the title will be subject to litigation, which is what marketability seeks to avoid.
Augusta Township relies on a number of factors that are important in determining whether a zoning ordinance is at risk of being successfully challenged for unlawfully excluding mobile homes.
2d 418 [Iowa 1996]), much the same issues were brought in the new action by Iowa Coal Mining after the county passed a new but almost identical zoning ordinance, Ordinance 7, which allowed landfilling, but not in strip coal mines.
One recent study by McMillen and McDonald (1993) examined residential land values in Chicago in 1921, two years prior to the introduction of the first Chicago zoning ordinance.
But if a decision of the planning board involves interpretation of the zoning ordinance, the appellant must first appeal to the ZBA before going to the superior court.
I look forward to serving our community and the board by interpreting development proposals and zoning ordinances in our area.
After an exhaustive discussion of takings law, impact fees, and exactions, the authors conclude that local governments should not adopt mandatory inclusionary zoning ordinances.
Noting that the federal law grants exclusive jurisdiction to the Surface Transportation Board over "construction, acquisition, operation, abandonment, or discontinuance of spur, industrial, team, switching, or side tracks, or facilities, even if located entirely in one state," the court ruled that the language of the Act expresses Congress' unambiguous and dear intent to preempt the City of Austell's authority to regulate and govern the construction, development, and operation of the railroad's intermodal facility via the instant zoning ordinance and land use permitting requirement.
However, they also cited the Manila zoning ordinance provisions of only 'a floor-area ratio of 4' (equivalent to a maximum of 16 but small stories) and a recommended institutional land use (e.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today an agreement with Ridgeland, Mississippi to resolve complaints the city violated the Fair Housing Act when it passed and enforced a zoning ordinance that HUD claimed was motivated by racial animus and created a discriminatory effect on the citys African American residents.