Common Types of Zoning Designations
Zoning designations and the uses allowed under each designation vary from area to area. Common zoning designations might include:
- “Residential” areas allowing homes or other dwelling units.
- “Commercial” areas allowing the operation of retail stores, offices, restaurants, theatres, and so on.
- “Industrial” locations, where manufacturing businesses (factories) are allowed.
- “Rural” locations for farms and other open land.
- “Historical” areas, offering protection to structures that have historical significance.
- “Environmental” areas, which protect sensitive natural regions.
- “Aesthetic” areas, prescribing how structures must look in the zoned area.
Zoning types are sometimes broken down further, into sub-types. For example, “residential” zoning might include several sub-types, each allowing for a different density of homes (such as “Residential 1” for single family homes only, “Residential 2” for duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes, and “Residential 3” for any dwelling containing more than four units).
More than one zone might also apply to a property. For example, land zoned rural might also be in an environmental zone, or also in an aesthetic zone (or in all three at once).
Any way in which you plan to develop or use the property must comply with all applicable zoning designations, so you must review all of their requirements before you buy a piece of land that you wish to build on.
A “rural” zoning designation might, for example, allow only one home on the property, or restrict the number and size of any outbuildings. If the land is also in an “environmental” zone, construction on certain portions of the land might be prohibited, or you might have to maintain undisturbed animal habitat (such as existing trees or waterways) on the land.
If the land is also in an “aesthetic” zone, you might need to use certain paint colors and building materials, build within certain height parameters, or submit building plans for the approval of a review committee before commencing construction.