When a person purchases real estate, whether it is a home or a place to conduct business, it is a large investment of time and money. In addition to the items a buyer may already be familiar with, like mortgages and title searches, it may be helpful to understand basic information about zoning.
Zoning organizes land into defined districts based on the type of its use. It includes planning for residential, commercial and industrial property within a community. By dividing these categories, it helps communities regulate their growth, development and character.
Zoning codes regulate the property’s layout and design, lot size, landscaping, building placement, signage and other items. They also include procedures for zoning applications, appeals and variances.
A permitted use in a zoning district means that the property owner does not have to ask for permission to have an authorized use of the land, like a business in a commercial district.
A nonconforming use is a property use that was in place before the current zoning regulations were enforced and is allowed to continue that use. Sometimes, these nonconforming uses are allowed indefinitely and sometimes they are allowed for a set period of time.
A variance is a change in a zoning regulation due to economic or physical hardship. To obtain a variance, the property owner must meet specific criteria.
Mixed use properties encourage the use of residential and commercial activities in the same development. These are more common in highly populated areas with limited space.
If buyers have questions about zoning and development or if a dispute arises, an experienced attorney can help.