Land use and zoning laws set forth the possible intended usage possibilities for properties. This gives municipalities a chance to keep specific types of developments near each other and away from others. Typically, residential units are going to be around each other. Within this type of dwelling, the zoning laws will determine what types of residential units can be in the area. This means that it might be possible to build single-family homes or multifamily buildings.
Commercial and industrial developments are two other types that are found in zoning plans. For the most part, you wouldn't want to build a house in the middle of a set of factories. The zoning ordinances help to ensure that there is some sort of uniformity within the municipality.
There are other points that are covered by zoning regulations. These include the locations of lines and piping for utilities, the height and size of the buildings, the possibility of outbuildings and any setback restrictions necessary.
Anyone who is considering purchasing a property needs to make sure that the land use and zoning regulations for it allow them to do what they need to do. For example, you couldn't open a grocery store on a lot that is zoned for residential usage.
It is sometimes possible to have the property rezoned. This usually requires a series of hearings to determine if there are any objections to the proposition. While you might not face much opposition if you are trying to get the zoning changed from one type of commercial property to another type of commercial property, you might face a lot if you are trying to change from residential to commercial or industrial. Understanding your rights and what's possible can help you in these cases.