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Home > Blog > Buying and Selling > Real Estate Land Use and Zoning

Real Estate Land Use and Zoning

When purchasing real estate, zoning and land use of the property are important factors to consider. Zoning ordinances regulate and restrict how you use your property, and may have serious impacts on your plans for your home or business. For example, some areas are zoned for residences, but those residences are limited to single family dwellings, eliminating the possibility of converting your property into townhomes or apartments. Other areas are zoned for commercial uses, but limit the types of business that can be operated in those areas. In order to be sure that you’re buying property that is properly zoned for your needs, it helps to be familiar with the differences between zoning districts, as well as some zoning regulations that could cause you headaches in the future.

Zoning Districts for Land Use

Municipalities use zoning regulations and restrictions to control and direct land use and property development within the community. New York City adopted the first zoning ordinance in 1916, and since that time virtually every town and city throughout the county has adopted zoning ordinances as part of their master plan. Zoning within a community classifies land use into several districts, the most common of which are commercial, residential, and manufacturing or industrial zones. Within these districts, the designated land use gets more specific. For example, in the Bronx and throughout the New York City area, the Department of City Planning lists classifications for land use which include the following:

One and Two Family Residences: These compose the largest use of city land.

Multi-Family Walkup Residences: Land use allows for tenement style residential buildings or low rise buildings containing three or more units.

Multi-Family Elevator Residences: These larger apartment buildings have five or more stories.

Mixed Residential and Commercial: This zoning allows for apartment buildings with stores or services on the ground floor.

Commercial Uses: These zoned areas occupy only a fraction of land, and include office towers and regional business districts and shopping corridors.

In addition to the above, land use can be zoned for transportation or utilities, for open spaces such as “green spaces” and parks, or for public facilities, such as hospitals and schools. By using zoning to regulate land use, local towns and municipalities can maintain uniformity in neighborhoods, while optimizing the functionality of land space.

Zoning Regulations Within Districts

Within each district, there are certain regulations and restrictions on how the land or property can be used. In the Bronx and the surrounding areas, the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York Zoning includes specific regulations on land use which dictates such items as accessories on a building, or how far setbacks need to be from the street. These regulations may take the form of restrictions such as the number of rooms or floor space in a building, as well as the height and size of the building. Regulations on residential land dictate front, side, and rear yards, while commercial real estate regulates the use of sidewalks and signage. Zoning can even regulate how historic homes and neighborhoods are preserved.

Contact Our Experienced Real Estate Attorneys

When purchasing real estate, it’s important to be aware of the potential impacts of zoning regulations. At Cavallo & Cavallo, our experienced New York Real Estate Attorneys will guide you through the purchasing process, making sure that the property you purchase is suited to your needs. With offices in the Bronx and Westchester, we’re your neighborhood law firm, providing effective legal service in handling all your real estate needs throughout all the boroughs of New York as well as all of Westchester County.

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