Understanding residential zoning

Zoning affects everything regarding how individuals can use certain pieces of land. It is important to note that the categories and symbols used can vary widely depending on your jurisdiction. Generally speaking, the government indicates different zoning types with alphanumeric codes. So, for example, commonly the letter R represents residential buildings, the letter I represents industrial zones and C is a commercial zone.

Residential zones generally encompass suburban homesteads, single-family residences or a variety of other designations like trailer parks and condominiums. According to FindLaw, residential zoning rules encompass what types of animals can be kept in the zone as well as what sorts of businesses can be in the zone.

How do zoning laws affect animal ownership?

While there are generally no laws prohibiting the ownership of animals traditionally kept as pets (cats, dogs), there are many animals prohibited from residential zones. For instance, in some residential zones, the government prohibits the ownership of chickens. In some other residential zones, owning chickens is not illegal.

Generally speaking, zoning laws do affect the ownership of larger animals. Horses, cows, pigs and sheep are usually prohibited in residential neighborhoods. However, there may be exceptions for properties that contain more acreage.

How do zoning laws affect businesses? 

Usually, there is no regulation on in-home businesses that do not involve customer traffic. However, in most cases operating a traditional store in the middle of a suburban street is not legal. This is because the zoning laws govern noise issues in the community as well as signage. The variety of business may also pose a problem: selling things on eBay is generally OK, but starting a nightclub is likely not possible. Working with an experienced real estate attorney can help you navigate these issues.

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