Just the Basics: What is Zoning?

Real Estate Law

According to research conducted by the Federal Reserve, land use policies and zoning ordinances are among the most important government regulations that significantly impact housing and labor markets in metropolitan areas.

Land use” refers to our human use of the land, including, among other things, developing land for residential and industrial purposes.

Land use practices vary considerably across the nation and even within a state itself. One reason for this inconsistency in rules is because land use policies are generally under the control of local governments.

Zoning plays an important part in land use regulation and planning.

Zoning Defined

Basically, zoning refers to the ordinances that local governments use to restrict the way in which real property can be used or developed within their jurisdictions.

Georgia’s state Constitution gives local governments the authority to adopt land use plans and enact zoning laws.

Through zoning ordinances, districts are established within the jurisdiction of each city or county. Each zoning district then specifies the land uses that are allowed within that district.

As noted above, this dissemination of authority to the local level contributes to the variability of zoning regulations because each municipality has its own individual political environment.

How Zoning Affects Property

It is the zoning regulations that specify in each specific zoning district, how the land can be developed and for what purpose.

For example, zoning regulates residential development by regulating property lot sizes, setback requirements, house sizes, the location and size of guest houses, pools, garages, and more.

Zoning regulations can prevent in-home businesses, or may limit how real property can be subdivided.

For commercial or industrial properties, zoning ordinances do the same thing. They regulate how the property may be developed and used.

Zoning Must be Distinguished from Eminent Domain

While closely related, zoning should not be confused with the government’s power of eminent domain.

Eminent domain is the government’s right to take real property as long as it is for a public purpose, and the property owner is provided with “just compensation.”

Eminent domain, then, involves a “taking” of property.

Zoning regulation, which is an exercise of the government’s police power, (normally) does not.

Rather than “taking” your property, zoning laws are designed to regulate your use of your property to prevent it from “being used in a manner detrimental to the public interest.”

Although zoning regulations can restrict the use of property or even diminish its value, they are presumed to be valid.

Understanding the zoning classifications and the laws that affect your property is critical. That’s why you should speak with experienced real estate counsel where you live.

Our Experience is Your Advantage.

At the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., our clients benefit from our experience. We have extensive experience in real estate law. We have offices in Cumming, and we serve clients in Atlanta, Gainesville, Gwinnett County, Bartow County, Hall County, Henry County, Cherokee County, Clayton County, Cobb County, and other counties throughout Georgia. To find out what we can do for you, call us today at: 770-888-7707. Or you can e-mail us with inquiries at: lawofficesofmarkweinstein@gmail.com



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