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How does zoning work in a city?

Understanding what a piece of land is zoned for or how it is to be used is important. If you don't know before you buy a piece of land or property, it could turn out that you don't have the opportunity to use the land for the purposes you had in mind.

A good example of this is purchasing a property that you want to use for business. Depending on the local zoning laws, the home or property may not be able to be used for commercial purposes. If it is zoned as a residential area, the only thing you'll be able to do is use the home as a residential property. Similarly, if you buy a property downtown and it's zoned for commercial use, then you likely won't be able to use it for residential purposes.

Why do cities have zoning laws?

One of the main reasons is because the city is then able to control the kinds of buildings that are in each area. For instance, the city may want downtown to be nothing but businesses. It may have a zoned area for agriculture on the outskirts of town, and it might have mixed zones in between.

What can you do if you want to use a property differently than the zoning laws allow?

If that happens, then you can seek a change to zoning for your building specifically. This is called spot zoning, and it is something that your attorney can help you apply for if you're not happy with the zoning your building falls under in your city.

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