Zoning Laws and Building Permits | Why They Matter
Most people are familiar with zoning laws that dictate what can be built in certain areas- like commercial zoning laws that prevent factories from being built in residential neighborhoods. But there are also zoning laws that dictate what *residents* can do on their own property. These laws are called “residential zoning laws” and they vary from city to city and state to state. These laws include building permits for various projects you might undertake on your home.
For example, some cities have laws that dictate how high a fence can be in a residential area. This is usually to prevent neighbors from feeling like they’re living in a prison or a fortress! But if you’re someone who likes your privacy, you might find these laws frustrating.
Another common residential zoning law is the need for a permit to build anything on your property. This includes things like adding a deck, building a shed, or even putting up a fence. The purpose of these permits is to make sure that whatever you’re building is safe and up to code.
While zoning laws can be frustrating, it’s important to remember that they’re there for a reason. They help keep our neighborhoods safe and functional. So next time you’re zoning out on zoning laws, just remember: they matter!
Common Items that are Regulated by Residential Zoning Laws and Permits
- Fence heights
- Building materials
- Building heights
- Land usage (commercial vs. residential)
- Noise levels
- Garbage and recycling storage
- Swimming pool additions
- Accessory dwelling units (e.g., granny flats, in-law units)
- Home additions
- Window replacement
- Gas line installation and replacement
- Solar panel installation
- Cutting down certain types of trees
- Building near creeks or streams
- Types of animals allowed as pets
- Sewer line replacement
- Brush abatement
- Tree heights
- Landscaping features in front of a property
Find Your Local Zoning Codes and Requirements
When it comes to zoning, every city and county is different. That’s why it’s important to find out what the zoning requirements and regulations are in your area before you make any changes to your property.
The best place to start is with your local zoning department or building department. They should be able to provide you with a copy of the zoning code for your area, as well as any other relevant information about obtaining a permit for the work you want to do.
You can also check your city or county website for zoning information. Many municipalities have their zoning codes and other resources available online.
Get Professional Help With Your Zoning Questions
If you’re still feeling confused about zoning or permits, it’s a good idea to get professional help. An experienced zoning lawyer or land use planner can help you understand the zoning code for your area and figure out what you need to do to get the permit you need.
A zoning specialist can also help you navigate the zoning appeals process if you need to file an appeal. And if you’re planning a major development project, a land use planner can help you map out the best way to get your project approved.
The zoning process can be confusing, but with the right help, you can get your project approved and move forward with your plans.
Zoning Code Enforcement
Each city is different, but in general, zoning code enforcement is the responsibility of the zoning administrator or zoning enforcement officer. This person is responsible for investigating complaints about zoning violations and taking action to remedy the situation. In many cities, zoning violations will note be cited unless someone proactively reports it.
If you believe that your neighbor is violating the zoning code, you can file a complaint with the zoning administrator. The administrator will then investigate the situation and take appropriate action, which could include issuing a warning, ordering the violation to be corrected, or levying a fine.
It’s important to note that not all zoning violations are created equal. Some zoning violations, like building a shed without a permit, are minor infractions that can be easily remedied. Others, like operating a commercial business in a residential zone, are more serious and may require more significant action to remedy.
When it comes to zoning code enforcement, the key is to work with the zoning administrator to find a resolution that is acceptable to both parties. With cooperation and communication, most zoning issues can be resolved without too much hassle.
Where to Start
Before you start your next project, it never hurts to take a quick look at your city’s website to research and pertinent zoning requirements before you get started. A bit of extra research can save you alot of time and headache down the road. Depending on your project, many vendors are already familiar with zoning and permit process in your area and will include this entire process as part of their bid. The permit process can range from $100 to $2,000+ depending on the nature of your project.