Zoning

Zoning in the United States

Practical Information

A regulation, enforced under the police power of municipalities and states and applied to the use of both lands and buildings, whereby land use is restricted to specific purposes and building construction is controlled as to type, intensity, and volume. Most of the larger cities in the United States now have regulatory zoning laws, which exercise powerful influences upon land values. (Revised by Ann De Vries)

For other definitions of it, read Zoning in the Legal Dictionary here.

In plain-English Law, Zoning as defined by Nolo’s Encyclopedia of Everyday Law (p. 437-455): The laws dividing cities into different areas according to use, from single-family residences to industrial plants. Zoning ordinances control the size, location, and use of buildings within these different areas.

Zoning in the United States Constitution

According to the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, when a local government decides how to allocate land uses it acts under the police power exercised by the states and their governmental subdivisions to regulate for the public health, safety, and welfare. The first zoning ordinances appeared early in the twentieth century.

The Encyclopedia says that Zoning is “the public allocation into use categories of privately held land and the subsequent regulation of land development.” It is by and large a legislative act undertaken by thousands of local governments and that zoning determinations are “a legislative exercise of the police power”.

Legal Materials

Zoning is generally handled on the local government level, so you’ll usually find the zoning rules for a given town/city/etc. in the jurisdiction’s municipal code. So one way to get a zoning code is to get the online or hardcopy version of the relevant municipal code (see “Local Laws”). The zoning code may also be posted on the relevant jurisdiction’s planning department’s web site.

Alternatively, you can often get zoning rules by calling the municipality’s central switchboard and asking around. They usually sell them separately.

You can also often find zoning codes at the relevant local, county and state libraries.

Treatise: A leading zoning law treaties is Rathkopf’s Law of Zoning and Planning(West Publishing).

New York City: NYC zoning rules are published in a 3 volume set called Zoning Resolution: The City of New York. The Resolution is posted on the Internet by the Department of City Planning (text at www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/zone/zonetext.shtml, maps at www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/dcp/html/zone/zh_zmaptable.shtml).

The Zoning Handbook: A Guide to New York City’s Zoning Resolution is a helpful aid to the Resolution. The Handbook is posted by Tenant.net. You can buy print copies from the City Planning Map & Bookstore.

Zoning, Sexual Behaviour and the Law

Zoning: Main Elements

The coverage of Zoning includes the following element(s):

Regulatory Taking

Find out an overview of this topic, in relation to Zoning, in the legal Ecyclopedia.

References

See Also

  • Property

Cause of Action by Private Party to Enjoin Zoning Violation: an Overview

This section examines this type of action. This subject identifies the various elements of the Cause of Action by Private Party to Enjoin Zoning Violation, offering a practical approach to the litigation issues of this cause of action. See also the entry about legal risks.

Most Popular Entries related to Zoning

Anderson's American Law of Zoning Database

This is a database related to interests in and transfers of real estate, in the following material: General Treatises, Forms, and Practice Guides. A description of this real estate database is provided below:

Full text of Anderson's American Law of Zoning, Fourth Edition, which provides an overview of the history and development of zoning in the United States, along with a review of the current state of zoning, planning, and subdivision control policy, including analysis of administrative relief from zoning regulations (special permits and variances); the power to zone (constitutional issues); regulation of uses for profit (agriculture, commerce, and industry); and judicial review of zoning and planning decisions.

Further information on United States legal research databases, including real property databases, are provided following the former link.

Land Use and Zoning: Texts and Forms Database

This is a database related to interests in and transfers of real estate, in the following material: General Treatises, Forms, and Practice Guides. A description of this real estate database is provided below:

All documents from the Zoning and Planning Law Report (ZPLR), Zoning and Planning Deskbook (ZPLDESK), Rathkopf's The Law of Zoning and Planning (RLZPN), Anderson's American Law of Zoning (AMLZONING), Handling the Land Use Case, Land Use Law Practice and Forms (LANDUSELAW), and State and Local Government Land Use Liability (STLOCLAND) databases and documents that relate to land use and zoning from the American Jurisprudence 2d (AMJUR), American Jurisprudence Legal Forms 2d (AMJUR-LF), American Jurisprudence Pleading and Practice Forms Annotated (AMJUR-PP), and McQuillin: The Law of Municipal Corporations (MUNICORP) databases.

Further information on United States legal research databases, including real property databases, are provided following the former link.

Zoning and Planning Deskbook Database

This is a database related to interests in and transfers of real estate, in the following material: General Treatises, Forms, and Practice Guides. A description of this real estate database is provided below:

Full text of Zoning and Planning Deskbook, which examines the latest developments in land use control, including procedural and substantive considerations, remedies, strategies, and state and federal litigation. It also cover techniques for obtaining approvals and permits, public hearings, and securing remedies and relief from adverse decisions.

Further information on United States legal research databases, including real property databases, are provided following the former link.

Resources

See Also

Local Laws
Real Estate

Further Reading

Bulk Zoning in the context of Real Estate

Resurces

See Also

  • Area Zoning

Island Zoning in the context of Real Estate

Resurces

See Also

  • Spot Zoning

Zoning Variance in the context of Real Estate

Resurces

See Also

  • Variance

Zoning: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Zoning. This part provides references, in relation to Zoning, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Zoning by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Zoning and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Zoning or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Zoning and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Zoning. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Zoning should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Zoning when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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