Real Estate Alphabet Soup: Z for Zoning | Miles & Stockbridge PC

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In my last post “Real Estate Alphabet Soup: Y is the Yard“, I continued my primer on the” alphabet “of real estate. In this post, we continue to stir the alphabet soup and complete the recipe with the final ingredient, the letter Z.

I once heard a marketing consultant ask everyone to give a short “elevator speech” to answer questions about what you do in your profession and, in my case, what areas of law I practice in. So, I briefly replied that I primarily deal with all matters of real estate law, including everything from A to Z, from acquisitions to zoning, among other things. Thus, the genesis of this blog series was born, and I decided to present a basic real estate tutorial from A to Z. And finally, I got to the letter Z.

Z stands for Zoning. Black’s Law Dictionary defines “zoning” as “the division of a city into neighborhoods through legislative regulation, and the prescription and application in each neighborhood of rules regarding the structural and architectural designs of buildings, as well as rules governing the use of which buildings in certain areas may be supplied. The powers to regulate zoning are not limited only to cities, towns and municipalities, but also to surrounding counties.

In Maryland, local zoning authority derives from the state’s permitting legislation set out in the Maryland Annotated Code, a land use clause that grants Maryland-based municipalities and counties the authority to establish zoning rules to govern use. lands within their respective geographic area of ​​jurisdiction. The land use clause defines “zoning law” as “enforcing local jurisdiction zoning rules by law” and includes “zoning ordinance, zoning ordinance, zoning code and any similar legislative measures to enforce zoning control in local jurisdiction. The land use clause also grants the local jurisdiction the authority to create a planning commission to promote and resolve local planning and zoning issues, and to recommend zoning classification for local property. However, the ultimate authority to establish different “zones” and approve zoning or re-zoning for individual properties within local jurisdiction rests solely with the local legislature.

“Zoning” is usually established by use category as defined and set out in the “zoning” ordinance. For example, jurisdictions will have “zones” for residential and commercial use, but may also have “zones” for industrial, agricultural and natural resource use. Within these separate categories of “zones”, there are various listed uses that are permitted within the respective “zones,” which are usually formulated as a zoning use matrix or list. For example, there may be multiple residential zoning categories, with each category allowing for a different type of residential use, such as single family homes, townhouses, duplexes, and apartment buildings. A commercial area can have several categories of different commercial uses and specific uses within each of these categories. For example, a commercial “zone” might have categories for different uses in retail, office, professional, business, and service industries. And within each category there may be certain types of permitted uses. For example, in a commercial “zone” that allows retail use, a matrix or use list can include several different types of retail use, such as clothing stores, grocery stores, and furniture stores. And the same will be true for each “zoning” category, which will include the many permitted uses in each particular “zone”.

In addition to the uses that are permitted in a particular ‘zone’, there may also be certain uses that are only permitted on a seasonal or temporary basis, or are only permitted after some additional review authorizations have passed first to establish any additional specific terms for the proposed use. in this particular place in this “zone”.

Zoning categories can also include specific overlays that are placed on the site, in addition to the basic “zoning” of the property, to establish additional standards and verification criteria for certain types of territories. For example, some jurisdictions may establish a historic area or permit the creation of a historic “overlay” zone to protect specific property that has been determined to have a specific historical or architectural significance. Other types of superimposed “zones” may be established to protect certain cultural or natural resources. Zoning categories can also include certain types of floating zones that can be designated on a particular site to provide flexible procedures, standards and criteria for the development of a property, taking into account the impact of the proposed uses of that particular site on adjacent and nearby sites. Floating areas can include, for example, institutional use areas for government and other public buildings, mixed use areas that allow the combination or combination of residential and commercial use, or parkland and open spaces.

Zoning should be reviewed regularly by the municipality or county as part of a comprehensive plan review process that looks at zoning for the entire jurisdiction. Individual property owners may also request that the zoning of the property be changed outside of the normal due diligence process for the plan; however, different and stricter verification standards apply during the individual reassignment process.

Once a municipality or county determines the “zoning” of certain areas or parcels, the local legislature decides and enforces an ordinance to amend the official “Zoning Map” to show the location of the various categories of zones within the geographic boundaries of the territory. municipality or county.

Zoning ordinances and zoning maps are a blueprint for a well-planned community and important resources to research before renting or buying a property. Just as a good chef must follow a recipe to ensure a delicious result, a seasoned buyer or renter must consult the official zoning ordinance and zoning map to ensure that the property can be used for its intended purpose.

And with that last ingredient, the recipe for this real estate alphabet soup is now complete. Bon Appetit!

The opinions and conclusions in this post are solely those of the author, unless otherwise stated. The information contained in this blog is of a general nature and is not offered and should not be construed as legal advice in any particular situation. Any federal tax advice provided in this post is not intended or written by the author for use and may not be used by the recipient to avoid penalties that the IRS may impose on the recipient. Please contact the author if you would like written advice in a format that complies with IRS rules and that you can rely on to avoid fines.

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