Zoning Law & Legal Definition


Zoning is a system the public regulation of the use of land. State legislatures hold the power to authorize zoning, within which the separate cities enact their own zoning ordinance and it is usually closely integrated with a city planning program. Various geographic areas (zones) are restricted to certain uses and development, such as industrial, light industrial, commercial, light-commercial, agricultural, single-family residential, multi-unit residential, parks, schools and other purposes.

Zoning is the main planning tool of local government to manage the future development of a community, protect neighborhoods, concentrate retail business and industry, channel traffic. It is also a method of controlling urban and suburban construction and removing congestion and other defects of existing plans. Typical zoning regulations address building height, bulk, lot area, setbacks, parking, signage, and density.

Zoning definitions vary by state, but the following is an example of one state's light industrial zoning legislation:

"Criteria for light industrial manufacturing sites vary due to factors related to the type of industry, customer/supplier relationships, the objectives of the manufacturer, and other influencing factors such as parent/subsidiary interaction. A representative light industrial manufacturing facility would employ 175 to 200 people and operate two to three shifts per day, five to seven days per week. Building sizes typically range from 50,000 to 150,000 square feet and locate on a site of approximately 10 acres. Capital investment of $8 million to $15 million is common, fluctuating primarily due to the machinery and equipment costs."