Zoning Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Zoning, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Zoning?

(v) Zoning is the classification of land usually a city land as per the development plan of that area. Zoning is used for easily identifying the areas where the proposed activities are permitted. Usually zoning of the land is done under various sectors like industrial land zone, Commercial land zone, residential land zone, agricultural land zone etc.

History and Meaning of Zoning

Zoning is a legal concept that dates back to the early 20th century in the United States, as a means of regulating land use and development. The idea was to divide land into different zones or districts, each with its own permitted uses, in order to promote public health, safety, and welfare. Zoning laws and regulations have since been adopted by many other countries and regions, often with slight variations in their specifics.

Zoning typically involves the classification of land based on factors such as density, building heights, setbacks, uses, and other related considerations. The zoning process typically involves public hearings, consultations with stakeholders, and approval by local government authorities. Zoning maps and ordinances can be revised over time as community needs and circumstances change.

Examples of Zoning

  1. A property owner may be prohibited from building a retail store in a residentially-zoned area.
  2. A city may require a certain percentage of land within a business district to be used for public parks.
  3. A developer may need to obtain a special permit for a high-rise building in a downtown area.

Legal Terms Similar to Zoning

  1. Land use planning: A broader term that encompasses zoning and other regulatory tools that guide how land is developed and managed.
  2. Conditional use permit: A permit that allows a property owner to use their land for a specific, otherwise prohibited purpose, subject to certain conditions or restrictions.
  3. Variance: An exemption from certain zoning requirements granted by a local board of appeals, based on evidence of a unique hardship or practical difficulty.