Land zoning is an integral part of any successful property purchase or sale. But more importantly, it’s critical to understand zoning when looking for off-market, raw land with development potential for home builders.
From detailed city and county regulations on what can be built where, to safety considerations for everyone involved in a residential or commercial project, land use zoning is important knowledge for all real estate professionals.
I’m giving you a comprehensive overview of land zoning – from what it is and its purpose, to the varying ways it can affect raw land development.
What Is Land Zoning?
Land zoning is an important factor to consider when determining the development potential of any piece of land. It's a system of rules, regulations, and laws that a local government or municipality puts in place to designate the type of land use for a particular area.
Local governments use zoning ordinances to control and limit the types of activities that occur in a given area, from residential to commercial to industrial, and more.
Land zoning can also help protect the local environment and provide guidance on how best to use the land. It helps prevent certain activities and uses that may not benefit the community, such as industrial pollution or overcrowding.
Knowing the land zoning process and purpose will give you a better understanding of the development potential of raw land, a piece of land’s current value, and what’s generally allowed or prohibited in any given area.
Which ultimately makes it easier to pursue lucrative development opportunities and plan accordingly, so you don’t get caught by surprise during the land entitlement process.
Why is Zoning Important for Acquisition & Development?
Zoning codes are an important part of raw land development because they allow for the efficient use of space and ensure that certain areas are protected from development.
Zoning also helps maintain public safety by ensuring developers construct buildings to a certain standard and properly consider fire safety, access, and other safety issues.
It further helps prevent overcrowding, environmental degradation, and other issues that can arise when proper community planning isn’t present.
Additionally, cities and counties can use zoning to foster economic growth or incentivize development. For example, zoning may allow for greater density or taller buildings, generating more tax revenues and providing jobs within a region.
Finally, zoning restrictions can help protect natural resources, such as wetlands, forests, and other green spaces. Without adequate zoning regulations, these resources could become overdeveloped or under-protected, leaving future generations with fewer options than our current generation.
In short, zoning is an essential tool for raw land developers that is vital in helping ensure the efficient use of space while balancing safety considerations and protecting natural resources.
Who Controls Land Zoning?
Generally, a municipality or a county is responsible for managing zoning regulations within the region they govern.
This includes establishing and managing boundaries between residential, commercial, and industrial uses. They also set criteria for what developers are allowed to build in particular areas, such as height limits, setbacks from the street, the maximum number of floors, and size restrictions.
Municipalities and counties decide what type of uses can exist in certain zoning districts, such as schools and parks in residential areas.
They also often have the power to issue special use permits or variances when an applicant provides compelling evidence that their proposed use is compatible with surrounding land uses.
This ensures that zoning codes don’t prevent people from using their property due to overly restrictive laws while still protecting the interests of the community at large.
Types of Land Zoning
Land zoning is an integral part of today's community planning process, allowing cities to make the best use of their resources to benefit the city and its residents.
There are five main types of land zoning:
Each type of land zoning plays a vital role in a community's economic and social well-being.
Residential land zoning specifies various zones for different housing types, such as single-family homes or mixed-use/multi-dwelling units.
The main purpose of residential land zoning is to protect public health and safety while promoting community development objectives.
With residential zoning, local governments set parameters for the size and shape of buildings, as well as parking and landscaping requirements. Zoning also defines where high-density housing may occur, how close together buildings can be situated, and so on.
Residential Zoning with Our Model
At VestRight, we specialize in closing raw land deals with home builders by applying our unique model that incorporates our expertise in residential land zoning. Our planning process allows us to identify potential resources that would otherwise go unnoticed in traditional approaches to real estate development.
We assess properties by looking at their current use, type of soil, topography, and other factors to determine if they are suitable for residential development based on zoning regulation standards.
If a property’s zoning needs to be changed in order for our deal to go through, we have the knowledge and resources to make that happen.
By understanding which areas are zoned for what type of housing development, we can also provide developers with information about potential opportunities that match their specific needs.
We take into consideration all the components related to residential land zoning, making our model an efficient solution to bring projects from conception to completion—cost-effectively for homebuilders seeking land to build homes.
Industrial zoning establishes where industrial activities can take place to minimize conflict with other land uses, such as residential neighborhoods. It typically includes provisions that limit the type of business activity in an area, noise levels, the size of structures, parking requirements, and more.
Properly zoned industrial land is essential for economic growth and development since it provides a safe environment for businesses to operate in, encouraging investment from both private citizens and corporations alike.
Additionally, by setting clear parameters for businesses operating in a given area, zoning assists with mitigating any negative impact on nearby residential areas by separating potentially hazardous activities from homes and schools.
Industrial zones help local governments create jobs by fostering business development in designated areas. This provides an additional source of revenue for the city or municipality through taxes levied on those businesses.
Commercial land zoning specifically designates areas for businesses to be built. It helps to regulate the types of businesses and activities that take place in an area, and the size, density, and extent of development.
This type of zoning law also balances commercial activity with residential concerns by setting restrictions on noise, air pollution, dust and smoke levels, street access characteristics such as width or walkability, and landscaping requirements.
A commercial zoning regulation also ensures that sensitive ecological or historic sites are protected from over-development.
To further protect local communities from development pressures, commercial zoning often defines height restrictions on proposed office buildings/retail stores/etc. and places minimum lot size requirements on parcels of land intended for commercial use.
Agricultural land zoning is a way to divide up natural resources to make them more sustainable and efficient. It helps protect the environment and allows for land use to be planned so that the most productive areas can be used for farming.
Zoning also allows farmers to specialize in different types of crops, allowing them to maximize profits while minimizing environmental damage.
In addition, zoning can help protect water resources by preventing runoff from contaminating sources of drinking water or aquatic life habitats. By regulating where and how development takes place, agricultural land zoning also helps to prevent soil erosion and habitat destruction.
Agricultural land zoning has become increasingly important as global food production evolves due to climate change and population growth.
With proper zoning regulations, farmers can ensure that their lands remain productive for years to come, thus helping ensure food security for future generations.
Rural land zoning safeguards resources such as potential agricultural land, forests, wetlands, and watercourses, creating a balance between economic development and the conservation of natural resources.
It can guide local businesses seeking to expand in rural areas while preserving the community's character. In addition, zoning regulations for rural lands help ensure that buildings are located away from hazardous conditions, such as flooding or wildfire hazards.
Rural land zoning also helps protect communities from overcrowding and sprawl by regulating population density and limiting the amount of development allowed on land.
Lastly, zoning can incentivize landowners to manage their rural properties responsibly through taxation or other financial rewards for maintaining open space or promoting sustainable farming practices.
Zoning Regulations to Know
To ensure compliance with local laws and successfully close a raw land deal, it’s essential for you to understand the five major land zoning regulations that governments often use.
- Type of buildings: This relates to the specific type of building or structure that is allowed in a particular area, such as residential homes, industrial warehouses, retail stores, or other types of buildings.
- Location of utility lines: Regulations covering utility lines detail where these lines must be located and how they must be installed.
- Accessory buildings: There may be restrictions on accessory buildings such as outbuildings, as well as building setbacks from streets and boundaries.
- Building measurements: The size and height of buildings will also be specified in land zoning regulations. This could include anything from floor space ratios to maximum building heights.
- Maximum number of rooms: Lastly, there may be limits to the number of rooms a building can contain based on its size and purpose.
It’s important to be aware of these local zoning laws and other regulations that homebuilders will need to consider during their development project because it affects the value of the land.
Learn More About Closing Raw Land Deals
Knowing the ins and outs of zoning laws is critical for any land acquisition specialist to profit in today’s home-building market.
By understanding these regulations, you can more easily identify vacant land with development potential, take it through the entitlements process, and avoid costly mistakes.
To learn more about raw land use and zoning rules, download my free Raw Land E-Book. With this valuable resource at your fingertips, you’ll have all the information you need to make smart, profitable decisions when prospecting raw land for residential development.