Zoning is your local government`s way of deciding on the use of a property. For example, your city may determine that a particular lot is suitable for a single-family home (residential area), factory (industrial area) or supermarket (retail zoning). Second, zoning laws determine what types of structures can (or cannot be built) in each zone. For example, all “R” zones in Falls Church are residential, from single-family homes in R1-A and R1-B zones to apartment buildings in R-M zones. (Note that apartments are only allowed in a small part of the city near the business corridor, while about two-thirds of the land is reserved for single-family homes — a typical pattern in many cities.) Other areas allow office, retail and industrial buildings. Local governments vary enormously in terms of size, capacity and financial resources, not to mention the different political environments in which they operate. It is entirely plausible that two places could have zoning laws that are similar on paper, at least in some dimensions, but are implemented in a way that leads to very different outcomes, especially if the permitting process is very discretionary. For example, if a local government wants to encourage development in a particular neighbourhood, it may grant a variance that exempts a project from certain zoning requirements. Conversely, neighbors hostile to new developments can exert political pressure on city councils or threaten lawsuits against developers to block proposals that might be technically permitted under zoning. In addition to restricting land use, zoning laws can also regulate dimensional requirements of ownership and structure on the property. These restrictions may include the minimum size of the parcel, off-street parking, the number of buildings on a property, and the number of housing units in a given area. Regulations may also limit certain areas to single-family homes, apartment buildings or townhouses. In areas of historic or cultural significance, zoning by-laws may require that these features be preserved.

The goal of zoning is to create a balanced community and meet the needs of the community, taking into account population density and growth trends. A smart planner will notice when a city needs more of one area than the other and adjust zoning as needed. Of course, zoning changes can cause problems among the population and lead to class action lawsuits. However, if zoning is done in the best interests of the community, lawsuits should be minimal and growth and prosperity should be encouraged. To achieve this goal, zoning laws regulate the effects of land use that may not be in people`s best interests, including things such as: Measuring zoning through planning surveys has two main drawbacks. First, as with any voluntary survey, response rates tend to be low, and tracking unruly participants is costly. The best-known survey, conducted by Wharton School economists, had a response rate of about 40% in the second iteration (2008). And the local governments that submitted responses were consistently different from those that did not: the most populous cities and counties responded more often than smaller municipalities.

This is not surprising, as larger cities have larger municipal budgets and more full-time planning staff. However, systematic differences between respondents and non-respondents limit the usefulness of survey responses. Employees are the first to respond to a zoning request. They review the application and work with the applicant to ensure it complies with the zoning order. They then make a recommendation on the application and, depending on the application, advise the planning commission, city council or BZA. While staff do not have the authority to approve or reject applications, other organizations often value their expertise and advice and can abide by their opinions. At the most basic level, zoning is a tool used by urban planners to build and expand a city or hamlet within a city. A good planner will consider the primary industry, population, growth rate and industrial needs of the community. Zoning helps your local government regulate land in your area. It may sound restrictive, but zoning is in the best interest of citizens, as it means your neighbors can`t build a megamall next to you without getting permission from the city. What is it used for? What is it used for? Experts say zoning is essential, but can also be confusing for most people.