Zoning categories and symbols vary among communities. A C-1 zone in one city is not necessarily the same as a C-1 in another. Typically, jurisdictions use letters of the alphabet as code abbreviations to identify the use allowed in a physical geographic area -- such as R for residential, C for commercial, and I for industrial. These symbols are usually paired with some number. The number can specify the level of use, or it may indicate a certain amount of acreage or square footage for that particular property.
Residential zoning can include Single Family Residences (SFR), Suburban Homestead (SH), or any number of other designation which cover homes, apartments, duplexes, trailer parks, co-ops, and condominiums. Residential zoning can cover issues such as whether mobile homes can be placed on property, and the number of structures allowed on certain property.
Zoning laws typically limit the type of animals allowed at a residence. Domestic pets such as dogs, birds, and cats are generally not regulated, but chickens, sheep, horses, llamas, pigs, and cows are subject to certain requirements. Many ordinances prohibit keeping these farm animals in residential neighborhoods. Others limit the number of animals based on the size of the property.
Zoning laws on home-based businesses can depend on the nature of the business, whether there are employees or business invitees, the hours of operation, signage, parking and delivery concerns, and noise issues. Some zoning ordinances prohibit all in-home businesses in residential areas. Others restrict the type of business and business hours, and may require separate parking and entrance facilities. Rules regarding home-based businesses for condominiums are typically even more restrictive than private residences.
Commercial zoning usually has several categories and is dependant upon the business use of the property, and often the number of business patrons. Office buildings, shopping centers, nightclubs, hotels, certain warehouses, some apartment complexes -- as well as vacant land that has the potential for development into these types of buildings -- can all be zoned as commercial. Almost any kind of real estate (other than single-family home and single-family lots) can be considered commercial real estate.
The availability of parking may affect the type of commercial zoning that is permitted. Additionally, there can be rules regarding the proximity of certain types of businesses to others. Many zoning laws prohibit or restrict adult entertainment establishments to a certain geographical area. Others bar such establishments within a certain distance of existing schools or churches.
Like commercial zoning, industrial zoning can be specific to the type of business. Environmental factors including noise concerns usually are issues in determining into which industrial level a business falls. Manufacturing plants and many storage facilities have industrial zoning. Certain business -- such as airports -- may warrant their own designation.
Industrial zoning is often dependent upon the amount of lot coverage (which is the land area covered by all buildings on a lot) and building height. Additionally, set-back requirements are higher for industrial zoned properties.
Agricultural zoning is generally used by communities that are concerned about maintaining the economic viability of their agricultural industry. Agricultural zoning typically limits the density of development and restricts non-farm uses of the land. In many agricultural zoning ordinances, the density is controlled by setting a large minimum lot size for a residential structure. Densities may vary depending upon the type of agricultural operation. Agricultural zoning can protect farming communities from becoming fragmented by residential development. In many states, agricultural zoning is necessary for federal voluntary incentive programs, subsidy programs, and programs that provide for additional tax abatements.
The "rural" zoning designation is often used for farms or ranches. In certain parts of the country, this designation will include residences zoned to allow horses or cattle.
Any number of zoning designations can be combined to form some sort of combination zone, many of which are unique to the community adopting the particular designation.
Homes and buildings over fifty years old are often included in historic zones. These zones have regulations which prevent the alteration of the structures from the original conditions, although there are allowances for repair and restoration in keeping with the historic plan. Frequently, buildings in these areas can qualify for governmental tax incentives.
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of cultural resources deemed worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in U. S. history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U. S. Department of the Interior. The National Register accepts applications for buildings, which meet certain specific historic requirements.
Owners of properties listed in the National Register may be eligible for a 20% investment tax credit for the certified rehabilitation of income-producing certified historic structures -- such as commercial, industrial, or rental residential buildings. This credit can be combined with a straight-line depreciation period of 27.5 years for residential property (31.5 years for nonresidential property) for the depreciable basis of the rehabilitated building, reduced by the amount of the tax credit claimed. Federal tax deductions are also available for charitable contributions to historically important land areas or structures.
Increasingly popular in upscale communities, aesthetic zoning covers color schemes, landscaping, mailboxes, fences, solar panels, decks, satellite dishes, and types of materials. Aesthetic zoning ordinances may require that building plans be submitted and approved by an architectural review committee. Wireless communication receiving devices can often be impacted by these types of zoning rules.
Permitted and Accessory Uses
Permitted and Accessory uses are built-in exceptions within a certain zoning category. For example, hotel property which is not zoned for a bar may be allowed to have a bar that is connected to the hotel as accessory or permitted use.
Have More Questions About the Different Types of Zoning? Ask a Lawyer
Zoning issues can arise at any time and they can affect what you can do on your land and what your neighbors can do on theirs. In some circumstances you can petition to enforce zoning or seek to have the zoning of a property changed. For help sorting through your zoning questions and issues, it's a good idea to reach out to an experienced land use and zoning attorney near you.