Zoning is the way the local governments control the physical development of land and the kinds of uses for different parcels of property. State and local governments have the power to enact statutes and ordinances, known as zoning regulations, in order to control the use of land for the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare. Zoning laws place significant limitations on the uses of the property within the defined areas or “zones” established in the particular zoning ordinance. Zoning laws typically specify the areas in which residential, industrial, recreational or commercial activities may take place. These could be residential, rural, commercial, industrial or a combination. Zoning laws often use numerical or alphabetical designations, such as CR-1; however the designation are not standard and differ from one community to another.
In addition to limiting land uses, zoning laws can also regulate the dimensional requirements for lots and for buildings on property located within the community, the density of development, and what livestock can inhabit the parcel of land. Zoning ordinances may designate certain spaces for hospitals, parks, schools, and buildings with historical significance. Zoning can also provide for restrictions on parts of certain parcels of land, such as those parcels which lie within protected peaks and ridges.
Zoning ordinances and maps are public records. The zoning information is listed on the tax records in most localities. These records can be located at the local tax assessor’s office and are often online.