Amelia Gomes  /   12/30/2022

Exploring Zoning Categories In Depth

The way landowners use their property differs from state to state. This is because local regulations preside over properties in a specific geographic location. These laws are what many refer to as “zoning.” While zoning can seem a bit intensive, you should know that it’s actually quite easy to understand. This post is here to further break down the common categories of zoning and answer other valuable related questions.

At Community Lands, we make it a duty to educate you on the surface meaning of specific topics like zoning and zoning categories. Then, we dive deeper into its categories to give you a broader scope of what it entails. This supporting post will discuss the most common zoning categories and what to do with them. Let’s go!

Common Zoning Cotegories

Residential Zoning 

Residential zoning addresses whether you can erect mobile homes on a site and how many structures are permitted on a specific piece of land. This zoning category consists of single-family residences (SFR) and suburban homesteads (SH). This category also has numerous other classifications, such as houses, condominiums, duplexes, trailer parks, and co-ops.

Zoning restrictions often restrict the types of animals permitted at a residence. For example, dogs, birds, and cats kept as domestic pets are typically unrestricted, but rules apply to the care of chickens, sheep, horses, llamas, pigs, and cows. These farm animals are not permitted in residential areas due to certain rules. Others set a property-size-based cap on the number of animals allowed.

Residential zoning also presides over home-based businesses. The zoning laws here can depend on the company’s industry, whether there are staff members or guests from the business, and the operating times. The regulations can also rely on signage, parking, delivery, and noise problems. 

Some zoning regulations prohibit any home-based business in residential areas. While some regulate the business type and operating hours, others control the parking and access facilities. Condominiums frequently have even stricter regulations governing home-based companies than single homes.

Commercial Zoning 

This type of zoning typically has multiple categories and is determined by the property’s intended use for a business and frequently the number of customers. Commercial real estate can include almost any type of property aside from single-family homes and single-family lots. Commercial zoning examples include office structures, shopping malls, nightclubs, hotels, and specific warehouses. It also takes in some apartment buildings and undeveloped land that you can turn into these structures.

Parking accessibility influences this kind of permitted commercial zoning. There may also be restrictions on how close one business must be to another. For example, numerous zoning regulations prohibit or place geographic limits on adult entertainment venues. Others refuse this property if they exist too close to existing churches or schools.

Agricultural Zoning

Communities that care about preserving the agriculture industry’s economic sustainability frequently utilize agricultural zoning. The density of development is often restricted by agricultural zoning. It also limits land use for purposes other than farming.

Many agricultural zoning rules regulate density by imposing a sizable minimum lot size for a residential dwelling unit. However, densities may change based on the nature of the farming operation.

Agricultural zoning helps stop residential growth from dividing farmland communities. In several states, agricultural zoning is required for federal voluntary incentive programs, subsidy programs, and programs that give extra tax breaks.

Industrial Zoning 

Industrial zoning can be tailored to the kind of business, just as commercial zoning. The industrial zone to which a company belongs is determined by a number of environmental factors, including noise levels and industrial use. Industrial zoning is used in production facilities and various storage facilities. Airports are an instance of a business that uses this zoning. 

The floor area ratio, or the amount of land covered by all buildings on a lot and building height, is frequently considered when determining industrial zoning. Furthermore, properties in industrial zones have stricter setback regulations.

Ways to make your land profitable with zoning

Zoning requirements, typically at the local or city level, give you permission for what to do with a property, be it residential or commercial. This could significantly impact your potential to make money off the land.

Information like specific usages, prohibited products by deed restrictions, and the building’s title history make it easy to find the best ways to make your property profitable. Here are some ways you can use zoning to add value to your land and make it profitable:


The requirements of a city may alter occasionally. This is where the town moves to rezone some of its regions. Rezoning a property involves changing its use and putting it in a different service.

Rezoning offers specific opportunities. It allows for a different use than what is currently allowed. You can also raise a property’s value by rezoning it. While you don’t have a say in zoning decisions, you can get into specific strategies to increase their likelihood.

Rezoning has the immediate ability to raise your property’s value. However, understand that many more factors contribute to a property’s worth than merely its location and contents. What the owner can legitimately do with the land is another consideration.

Small lots in mobile home communities, for instance, may sell for more money than larger surrounding parcels of property simply because there are so few locations where zoning permits the use of mobile homes.

You need to purchase a property and ask for a new zoning designation that increases its value. You can then resell the property for a profit if you successfully alter the zoning.

Search for properties with unsuitable zoning

Finding properties with zoning that allows for a higher value than their current usage is the motivation behind this move. For instance, you might occasionally see multifamily-zoned properties for sale that only include single-family homes.

You can now make the most of that lost chance by expanding the property or converting the current building into a multifamily building. You can do this by consulting the property tax records or visiting the neighborhood planning office to learn the zoning of a property.

Using municipal annexation and its master plan to your advantage

Municipal annexation is the process through which a city buys land and extends its jurisdiction into neighboring unincorporated territories. A master plan, on the other hand, is a long-term planning document that offers a conceptual design to direct the city’s future expansion and development.

You can observe a property by examining the city’s master plan. Then, you can determine if that land will eventually become an essential structure like a retail mall or a multi-story building. You can then take advantage of the situation by purchasing the land at the going rate.

Understanding zoning categories and their laws for each listing require a lot of in-depth research from the local zoning departments, which we at Community Lands provide. This knowledge goes beyond ways to use and not use your property.

It can offer ways to maximize your property and get the most out of it. It can also provide you with opportunities to increase the value of your property and earn good profits from it. While some of the ways to achieve this might not be easy, they are worth trying.

To learn more about how to be the most efficient and environmentally-friendly land owner you can be, visit the Community Lands’ Learn Center.

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