Every state, city and town has regulations and laws that are unique to that particular place. Zoning laws are usually created for the express purpose of preserving or reinforcing the specific characteristics of an area. Residential and commercial buildings that are in areas with zoning laws are expected to adhere to such ordinances, and can face fines or legal action for violating such laws.
A zoning ordinance divides a town, city, village or county into separate residential, commercial, and industrial districts. These types of ordinances are often established early in the development of a town and are created by city planners in conjunction with city officials. In large cities, zoning laws are usually part of large-scale urban planning schemes carefully thought out by architects, landscapers and local officials. The more historically significant an area, the more likely there are to be stricter zoning laws.
Zoning laws often limit the dimensions of each zone, as well as the buildings, parks and other aesthetic features within a given area. In an industrial area, this can include the size and height of a building, its proximity to other buildings, and the architectural design of its exterior. In suburban residential areas like those that contain subdivisions, lot size, street width and quality, and the type of water, gas and sewer lines to be used in the area are also a predetermined by zoning laws.
A violation occurs if a building or property owner uses his property in a way that does not conform to current zoning laws. Many people run private businesses from their homes; however, if you live in an area with zoning laws that prohibit a property from being used as both a residential and commercial building, you are only allowed to use your property as one or the other. In most cases, a violation of this type results in a notification from your city planning office to immediately comply with zoning laws. Depending on the type of violation, you could be fined or have legal action taken against you.
If you are uncertain of the zoning laws in your area, you should contact your city or state planning office. When it comes to zoning laws, you should have a clear understanding of your responsibilities, particularly since violations often demand the type of compliance that can cost property owners a significant amount of time and money.