Zoning and how it affects you

Zoning bylaws are actual statutes passed by municipal governments to control land use in specified areas (or zones), e.g., industrial from residential, etc. These bylaws define exactly what can take place on a parcel of land and how structures are to be located on the property (front yard set-backs, side yard clearances, etc.). Essentially, they protect and promote the safety and health of inhabitants and aid the municipality in controlling and regulating growth and development.

Zoning codes may vary a great deal between municipalities. In fact, some municipalities lack them altogether. However, those that do generally break them down into the following categories:

  • residential
  • commercial
  • downtown commercial
  • highway commercial
  • institutional
  • open space
  • agricultural
  • light industrial
  • heavy industrial

An effective set of zoning bylaws will define zones for various types of uses and establish the specific type of use in each zone; set standards for erecting buildings, including types of dwellings permitted, minimum lot size, frontage, set-backs from the street, side yard clearances, building heights, parking requirements, floor area and so on; provide restrictions to ensure land uses are compatible, e.g., prohibiting factories in residential areas; and reduce the municipality's operating costs by keeping different types of land use in separate area, which, in turn, makes the provision of major services (such as garbage pickup or leaf removal) more efficient.

This information is provided by the London and St. Thomas Association of REALTORS®. The information herein is believed to be accurate and timely, but no warranty as such is expressed or implied.