Zoning impacts every single property in the nation.

Zoning is the reason that particular lots of land have restrictions on what they can be used for. If zoning regulations are too strict then the prices of properties soar. Yet if the regulations for zoning are too relaxed, urban sprawl occurs and the land use pattern becomes scattered. A well-developed zoning regulation allows an effective economic land use pattern, protects the environment and the citizens, and maintains property affordability.

A zoning ordinance for a property is composed of multiple factors.

The ordinance will classify the property in one of four classifications; single family residence, multi-family residence, commercial, and industrial. There are multiple sub-categories within each classification. The zoning ordinance also describes the property’s minimal lot boundaries, a building’s allowed location on the lot, and the size of the buildings allowed. If you were to build a horse barn, the ordinance would state the maximum size of the barn along with how close the barn could be to the edge of your lot. Zoning ordinances are not as black-and-white as they may seem though.

If a person was to have a small lot and they had to build a barn on the corner of their property but the zoning ordinance restricted them, they would need variance relief. Variance is used when the zoning is too strict and the restrictions reduce the worth of the property.  Variance can waive the setback lines for your barn. In order to prove that your property requires variance, you must show that there is a true hardship (size of the land), that the issue is specific to only your property, and that the change will not impact the appeal of the neighborhood/community. Once you have proved these criteria and your variance has been accepted, you are free to build beyond the ordinance lines.

Another issue that may arise with a property is if the zoning classification wanted to be changed. If a property is zoned agricultural and wants to be changed to residential, then you must present your classification change to the Planning & Zoning Commission. The Commission will review and vote on the suggested change. The change is more likely to be approved if it fits the local community’s future growth plan.

Additionally, the Planning & Zoning Commission must approve any proposed building projects. The Planning & Zoning Commission conducts a site plan review in order to determine if the project is going to be accepted. The reviews will include the opinions and interests of both the Commission and the public. While this process can be somewhat informal, it allows the public to have a stance on the projects being built within their community. For horse owners that are trying to preserve riding lands, site plan reviews are a great opportunity for them to voice their opinions in order to prevent large developments.

Whether you are building your dream barn or trying to preserve land for equestrian activities, zoning is influential. It is always important to be involved with the projected building projects for your community and to be educated on the zoning ordinances of your property.


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