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Zoning is the division of a city or county into districts for the purpose of regulating land use and development standards. The typical zoning ordinance regulates land use by dividing the community into districts or “zones” and specifying the uses that are to be permitted, conditionally permitted, and prohibited within each zone. Text and map(s) describe the distribution and intensity of land uses in such categories as residential, commercial, industrial, and open space. Typically, land uses of compatible intensity are grouped together and obnoxious or hazardous uses are separated from residential and other sensitive uses to the extent possible. Zoning regulations establish procedures for considering projects, standards for minimum lot size, building height and setback limits, fence height, parking, and other development standards within each land use zone.
Zoning ordinances also include regulations and standards for a wide range of special uses and activities. Zoning ordinance provisions can address such topics as signs, design guidelines, wireless communication facilities, the keeping of animals, transportation demand management, solar and wind facilities, and airports.
A contemporary variation of traditional zoning regulations are form-based codes. Form based codes regulations focus more on design and less on use. Form-based codes address the relationship the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and blocks. The regulations and standards in form-based codes, presented in both text and illustrations, are based a regulating plan that designates the appropriate form and scale (and therefore, character) of development rather than only distinctions in land use found in traditional zoning codes.