Property zoning may seem confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Before we get into the different types of zoning, you might first be wondering what the purpose of zoning is. Your property must be zoned so that the local government can control the development of the land and the types of uses for various properties for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare. In other words, zoning specifies what kinds of homes and businesses can exist in certain areas. And basically, it’s just a necessity for every property owner.

The following are the most common types of zoning, with various subclassifications under each:

• Covers houses and related properties
• Among other things, residential zoning can specify how many structures are allowed on a property
• Within residential zoning, subclassifications may include R1 (single-family homes), R2 (duplexes), apartments, condos, co-ops and others.

• Includes businesses, public offices and health care facilities, among others
• Commercial zoning restrictions depend on what kind of business the property is being used for, as well as the number of business patrons

• Examples of industrially zoned properties include manufacturing, mining and recycling businesses
• Can be dependant on the kind of business
• Also often depends on the amount of lot coverage and building height

• Often used for farms and ranches, rural zoning also covers recreational facilities
• Rural zoning might also include residences that are zoned to allow horses and cattle

Though most common, those four categories are not the only types of zoning. You might also come across the following:

Agricultural zoning restricts non-farm uses of the land and typically limits the amount of development. This type of zoning can protect farming communities from residential development.

Historic zoning often includes buildings or residences over 50 years old and prevents any changes being made to the property’s original condition.

Combination zoning covers a wide spectrum, as there is no limit to the number of zoning designations that can be combined to form some kind of combination zone.

What else do you need to know?
The owner may apply to the local government for a change of zoning if the current zoning is inconsistent with the way the owner wants to use the property. There is usually an application and a fee, followed by a hearing where the owner presents the request and the reasons for the change.

A final word of advice
Because zoning laws may change and they vary from area to area, be sure you know about any zoning restrictions before you invest in a new home.