Zoning

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps
 
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Page 456

The separation or division of a municipality into districts, the regulation of buildings and structures in such districts in accordance with their construction and the nature and extent of their use, and the dedication of such districts to particular uses designed to serve the GENERAL WELFARE.

Zoning, the regulation of the use of real property by local government, restricts a particular territory to residential, commercial, industrial, or other uses. The local governing body considers the character of the property as well as its fitness for particular uses. It must enact the regulations in accordance with a well-considered and comprehensive plan intended to avoid ARBITRARY exercise of government power. A comprehensive plan is a general design to control the use of properties in the entire municipality, or at least in a large portion of it. Individual pieces of property should not be singled out for special treatment. For example, one or two lots may not be placed in a separate zone and subjected to restrictions that do not apply to similar adjoining lands.

Zoning ordinances divide a town, city, village, or county into separate residential, commercial, and industrial districts, thereby preserving the desirable characteristics of each type of setting. These laws generally limit dimensions in each zone. Many regulations require certain building features and limit the number and location of parking and loading areas and the use of signs. Other regulations provide space for schools, parks, or other public facilities.

Zoning helps city planners bring about orderly growth and change. It controls population density and helps create attractive, healthful residential areas. In addition, zoning helps assure property owners and residents that the characteristics of nearby areas will remain stable.

In some states a municipality has the right to be heard on proposed zoning in an adjoining community. Courts have upheld this so-called extraterritorial zoning as an exercise of the POLICE POWER of the state, with the goal of serving the general welfare of both communities and creating harmony among the uses of a given area, without regard to political boundaries.

Following the lead of New York City, which passed the first major zoning ordinance in 1916, most urban communities throughout the country have enacted zoning regulations.

Zoning is not merely the division of a city into districts and the regulation of the structural and architectural designs of buildings within each district. It also requires consideration of future growth and development, adequacy of drainage and storm sewers, public streets, pedestrian walkways, density of population, and many other factors that are within legislative competence.

BUILDING CODES, which govern the safety and structure of buildings, do not contradict zoning ordinances, but exist side by side with them. Both rest on the police power: zoning stabilizes the use of property, and building codes ensure the safety and structure of buildings. Zoning is intended to have a relative permanency, whereas building codes are much more flexible because they must keep abreast of new materials and other technological advances.

Municipalities have power to zone property only if...

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