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What are the basics of zoning laws?


When deciding on a location for a business, or on where to expand a business as it grows, an important consideration may be zoning laws in the area and how the nature of the business might impact relevant zoning laws. Because of the importance of zoning laws, some people may wonder what they are and about the basics of zoning laws. Zoning laws are a type of land-use regulation that impacts the development of land and how it can be developed. For instance, commercial buildings can generally only be built in commercially-zoned areas and residential structures can generally only be built in residentially-zoned areas. Industrially-zoned areas are also common.

It is important to consider local zoning regulations and ordinances when determining where to locate a business. It is essential to have a thorough knowledge and understanding of zoning laws in relation to the nature of the business that will be conducted at a proposed location. The intended use of the property can be an important determinant when deciding where to locate a business because it may impact use, growth and expansion plans for both the business and location which may, in turn, implicate zoning laws.

It is necessary to be aware of zoning laws when committing to the purchase of a property or considering improvements to be made to an existing structure. Proposed renovations and uses may all be impacted by local zoning laws and restrictions. Zoning requirements can include a variety of considerations which can be detailed and specific. Considerations implicated by zoning laws can include the type of buildings permitted; restriction on accessory buildings; the number of structures permitted on a lot; size and height of buildings; lot area and off-street parking, among other considerations.

Establishing, expanding or growing a business are all exciting opportunities for any business. Because of this, it is important to ensure that when doing so, the business is compliant with all local laws and regulations and those running the business are knowledgeable of zoning laws.

Source: The U.S. Small Business Administration, "Basic Zoning Laws," Accessed Oct. 6, 2014

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