Zoning refers to a system of creating and developing a city or county plan in which various geographic areas (zones) are restricted to certain uses and development, such as a new business that is looking to build industrial buildings, light-commercial, agricultural, light industrial, commercial,single-family or multi-unit residential, parks, schools etc.

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Is the process by which a local government regulates the use of privately owned land within its jurisdiction. A municipality or county usually derives authority to engage in zoning from an enabling statute adopted by the state legislature. The enabling statute constitutes a delegation of the state's police power to regulate land use to promote the public welfare. Under this authority, the local legislative body, such as the city council, enacts a comprehensive zoning scheme by which the entire community is carved into discrete sections or zones. Certain uses are allowed in each zone. For example, only residences may be permitted in one area, whereas factories may be authorized elsewhere.


Municipal or county regulation of land use effected through the creation and enforcement of zones under local law.

Law.com Dictionary

n. a system of developing a city or county plan in which various geographic areas (zones) are restricted to certain uses and development, such as industrial, light industrial, commercial, light-commercial, agricultural, single-family residential, multi-unit residential, parks, schools and other purposes. Zoning is the chief planning tool of local government to guide the future development of a community, protect neighborhoods, concentrate retail business and industry, channel traffic and play a major role in the enhancement of urban as well as small-town life. In 1926, zoning was declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co.


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.

The Free (Legal) Dictionary

Zoning, the regulation of the use of real property by local government, restricts a particular territory to residential, commercial, industrial, or other uses. The local governing body considers the character of the property as well as its fitness for particular uses. It must enact the regulations in accordance with a well-considered and comprehensive plan intended to avoid Arbitrary exercise of government power. A comprehensive plan is a general design to control the use of properties in the entire municipality, or at least in a large portion of it. Individual pieces of property should not be singled out for special treatment. For example, one or two lots may not be placed in a separate zone and subjected to restrictions that do not apply to similar adjoining lands.

Zoning ordinances divide a town, city, village, or county into separate residential, commercial, and industrial districts, thereby preserving the desirable characteristics of each type of setting. These laws generally limit dimensions in each zone. Many regulations require certain building features and limit the number and location of parking and loading areas and the use of signs. Other regulations provide space for schools, parks, or other public facilities.

Zoning helps city planners bring about orderly growth and change. It controls population density and helps create attractive, healthful residential areas. In addition, zoning helps assure property owners and residents that the characteristics of nearby areas will remain stable.

In some states a municipality has the right to be heard on proposed zoning in an adjoining community. Courts have upheld this so-called extraterritorial zoning as an exercise of the Police Power of the state, with the goal of serving the general welfare of both communities and creating harmony among the uses of a given area, without regard to political boundaries.


Zoning is a device of land use regulation used by local governments in most developed countries. The word is derived from the practice of designating permitted uses of land based on mapped zones which separate one set of land uses from another. Zoning may be use-based (regulating the uses to which land may be put), or it may regulate building height, lot coverage, and similar characteristics, or some combination of these.