When you own a piece of land, you might be the owner, but that doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want with the property—otherwise there could be auto mechanics and amusement parks in the middle of residential neighborhoods, adult entertainment near schools and other undesirable location issues.
Land planning in Idaho and beyond is also important for easing transportation goals, environmental conservation and keeping the suburban or urban sprawl to a minimum. In short, it’s designed to plan communities in a way that benefits everyone—and how your land is zoned will determine what you can do with the property that you own.
What kind of zoning and land use regulations are there?
To find out what you can do with your property, you’ll need to locate it on a city or municipal map, and find out which zone you’re in. There are three general types of uses: the principal permitted use (for example, in a residential neighborhood, this would be “residential use”), accessory use and conditional use. If your zoning law doesn’t have your desired use listed as one of those three uses, you won’t be able to use the property for that purpose—unless you can get the zoning laws changed.
There are several general zoning categories in an urban environment:
- Residential: Residential is one general category, but it’s often divided into multiple subcategories, depending on the type of residence and how many people are supposed to live there—for example, a boarding house will almost always have a different residential zoning subcategory than a single-family detached home. When buying land for a residential development, make sure that your property is zoned properly.
- Commercial: Commercial properties tend to cover retail businesses, restaurants and offices.
- Industrial: Industrial zoning is for manufacturing and other types of plants that would not be suitable right next to residences or commercial districts.
- Mixed use: Many modern zones are mixed use, meaning there can be a mix of commercial and residential uses in one zone—think apartments over restaurants or retail businesses in large cities, for example, or shopping centers in the middle of residential areas. Schools may also fall into this mixed-use zoning.
- Agricultural: Depending on your specific location, agricultural zoning may be folded into another category or stand on its own.
- Recreational: This includes parks, natural preserves and other open spaces designed for people to enjoy, whether publicly or privately owned.
- Spatial: This category can encompass major structures and hubs like airports, power plants, sports complexes, shopping malls and more. If you’re planning a large development like this, chances are the municipality will have very specific zoning regulations to govern this type of development.
It’s clear that any time you have a specific plan for a piece of property, you’ll need to see if that use is allowed under the applicable land planning rules in Idaho. Need a civil engineer to guide you through the project? Call Mason & Associates today to get started. We look forward to assisting you!