Zoning is an essential act of city planning. It helps determine function of a property in specific locations to provide the most well planned city or town. Property may be zoned for commercial or industrial use, or for residential use. Sometimes properties like live/work spaces contain multiple zones, some for residential and some for commercial use. When a city government or a property owner wishes to change the terms of property use, they may need to go through the process of rezoning physical property, which may be simple or complex depending upon the demands and requirements of the city.
For instance, you might own a very large piece of land that is zoned for one residence only. To increase profits, you could decide to split the land and build a second residence on it. Legally, you can’t do this unless you file rezoning papers with your city government. Generally with large properties, this is all that is required.
There can be some hang-ups with rezoning, though. Some cities limit the number of new buildings that can be built each year, and have specific growth caps that might interfere with your plans. It’s important before you start hiring architects or builders that you make certain your plans to rezone your property for more than one residence will not be rejected by the city.
At other times, people use rezoning to convert one type of space into another. In smaller cities, you may see beautiful old homes turned into office buildings. In most cases, these have had to rezone in order to change from a residential homes into commercial offices. While you may not need to rezone your home if you operate a small business from your home, converting a residence to a series of offices generally means applying for rezoning. Again, various city regulations may make this impossible, so it’s always important to check with zoning limitations in your town before going ahead with plans. Certain businesses, like liquor stores for instance, may need to be a defined distance from schools.
Another concern with rezoning is the safety of converting a building or property of one type into another. You’ll note for instance that gas stations frequently stand empty for years after they’re closed. This is because they may not be safe to build on for any other purpose. Former industrial zoned areas may undergo intense scrutiny if they are to be rezoned as commercial or residential. Cities must make certain that no left over pollutants or toxic chemicals exist that might constitute a danger to new residents or workers in the area.
City laws, or county laws in unincorporated areas, tend to determine the degree to which you will be able to rezone, to convert use of a type of property from one thing to another. If you’re considering rezoning, investigate these laws fully. Applications to rezone can vary from city to city. Some rezoning requests are simple, and others tremendously complicated depending upon restrictions the city or county holds regarding growth, percentage of types of businesses allowable, and a variety of other factors.