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Zoning

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Zoning

Zoning is a term used in urban planning for a system of land-use regulation in various parts of the world, including North America, the United Kingdom and Australia. 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.




Scope

Theoretically, the primary purpose of zoning is to segregate uses that are thought to be incompatible; in practice, zoning is used a 11411n1323l s a permitting system to prevent new development from harming existing residents or businesses. Zoning is commonly controlled by local governments such as counties or municipalities, though the nature of the zoning regime may be determined by state or national planning authorities. In Australia, land under the control of the Commonwealth (Federal) government is not subject to state planning controls. The United States and other federal countries are similar.

Zoning may include regulation of the kinds of activities which will be acceptable on particular lots (such as open space, residential, agricultural, commercial or industrial), the densities at which those activities can be performed (from low-density housing such as single family homes to high-density such as high-rise apartment buildings), the height of buildings, the amount of space structures may occupy, the location of a building on the lot (setbacks), the proportions of the types of space on a lot (for example, how much landscaped space and how much paved space), and how much parking must be provided. The details of how individual planning systems incorporate zoning into their regulatory regimes varies though the intention is always similar. For example, in the state of Victoria, Australia, land use zones are combined with a system of planning scheme overlays to account for the multiplicity of factors that impact on desirable urban outcomes in any location.

Most zoning systems have a procedure for granting variances (exceptions to the zoning rules), usually because of some perceived hardship caused by the particular nature of the property in question.

Types of residential zones would be R1 for single-family homes, R2 for two-family homes and R3 for multiple-family homes.



Types

Zoning codes have evolved over the years as urban planning theory has changed, legal constraints have fluctuated, and political priorities have shifted. The various approaches to zoning can be divided into four broad categories: Euclidean, Performance, Incentive, and Design-based.

Euclidean

Euclidean zoning is utilized by some municipalities because of its relative effectiveness, ease of implementation (one set of explicit, prescriptive rules), long-established legal precedent, and familiarity to planners and design professionals.

However, Euclidean zoning has received heavy criticism for its lack of flexibility and institutionalization of now-outdated planning theory (see below).

Performance

Also known as "effects-based planning", performance zoning uses performance-based or goal-oriented criteria to establish review parameters for proposed development projects in any area of a municipality. Performance zoning often utilizes a "points-based" system whereby a property developer can apply credits toward meeting established zoning goals through selecting from a 'menu' of compliance options (some examples include: mitigation of environmental impacts, providing public amenities, building affordable housing units, etc.). Additional discretionary criteria may also be established as part of the review process.

The appeal of performance zoning lies in its high level of flexibility, rationality, transparency and accountability. Performance zoning can avoid the sometimes arbitrary nature of the Euclidian approach, and better accommodates market principles and private property rights with environmental protection. However, performance zoning can be extremely difficult to implement and can require a high level of discretionary activity on the part of the supervising authority leading to the potential for disenfranchisement among negatively affected stakeholders.










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