Introduction to Zoning

Zoning is one of the most common methods of land use control used by local governments.  Zoning works by dividing a community into districts, regulating uses that are allowed within those districts, and prescribing allowable dimensions such as lot sizes, setbacks and building height.  Zoning can help a community to achieve goals outlined in a comprehensive plan including:

  • Protecting public health, safety and general welfare.
  • Promoting desirable patterns of development.
  • Separating incompatible land uses.
  • Maintaining community character and aesthetics.
  • Protecting community resources such as farmland, woodlands, groundwater, surface water, and historic and cultural resources.
  • Providing public services and infrastructure in an economical and efficient manner.
  • Protecting public and private investments.

Watch: A Brief History of Zoning

An overview of how zoning evolved.

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