The most common form of land-use regulation is zoning, which governs the use and development of real estate. Municipalities use zoning regulations and requirements to direct the development of property within their borders. As the word suggests, local governments will designate various “zones” for different uses of land, whether it be residential, commercial, agricultural or industrial.
A Word on Zoning Regulations
The principal motive behind zoning regulations is to separate property uses which are incompatible, such as the case of a noisy and smoke-producing factory located amidst a residential neighborhood. A zoning ordinance must be based on several factors, such as the needs of the municipality; the purpose of the restriction, as well as the location, size and physical characteristics of the land. Also considered is the character of a given neighborhood, and the effect of the regulations on the value of the property involved. In sum, the rationale behind zoning is that it promotes the good of an entire community in accordance with a comprehensive plan.
Single-Family Homeowners and Zoning Laws
Regarding the single-family homeowner, zoning ordinances will also determine the manner in which residential property can be used or improved. For example, should you want to build an addition onto your single family home, or add on a deck, there are usually restrictions regarding how close to your property line you are permitted to build. The distance from any proposed addition to the property lines is regulated by the minimum yard requirements—called “setback requirements” set forth by the zoning district regulations in the zoning ordinance. Each zoning district has unique minimum required yards and the answer depends on the zoning district in which your property is located.
Developers and Zoning
Not all land use requirements are determined by governments. Land developers often incorporate restrictions into their developments through the use of “restrictive covenants,” or provisions in a deed which limit the use of the property and prohibit certain applications. These are typically employed by developers to establish minimum house sizes, setback line or aesthetic requirements thought to enhance the neighborhood.
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