Business Licenses and Zoning Categories

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Business Licenses and Zoning Categories

Zoning categories are very closely linked to the issuing of business licenses. In many cases, a business can only be operated in certain areas that are subject to specific types of laws known as zoning ordinances. Zoning ordinances basically define how property can be used within a clearly marked geographic area. For example, some sections of a city may be residential in nature, while others may be commercial.

Thus, a person or entity that is applying for a business license should also have some understanding of the zoning laws in the area where they wish to operate. Zoning laws often place restrictions on business property including the height of buildings, the types of activities that are permissible in the area, and the placing of structures on a given plot of land. 

Failure to follow zoning laws can have negative consequences on the business operation, and can result in a denial or revocation of a business license.

What are the Most Common Zoning Categories?

Zoning categories define which types of businesses can operate in a certain area. Each city is zoned differently, and may use different names for the types of zoning categories. The most common zoning categories usually include:

Zoning categories can be further sub-divided into smaller, more specific categories. For example, a manufacturing zone can be subdivided into “Research,” “Light,” or “Heavy” manufacturing zones. Another common sub-category is the division of residential zones into single-family dwellings, apartments, mobile homes, etc.

Business licenses may be issued according to the zoning categories themselves. For instance, there may be separate business license for those connected with agriculture, manufacturing, small retail, restaurants, and so forth.

What are Zoning Symbols?

Zoning symbols are the abbreviations that a municipality might assign to the different zoning categories. Again, the exact symbols may vary by jurisdiction.  Some common zoning symbols include “A” for agriculture, “C” for commercial, R1 for single family dwelling areas, R2 for two-dwelling areas, etc.

Zoning symbols may frequently be referred to in various forms and documents related to business license applications. The symbols may appear on the license itself or on signs posted in or outside a business building. 

Thus, before setting up a business, one should engage in a thorough investigation of the way that zoning categories and symbols are arranged. An entire business plan may revolve around the acquisition of a plot of land in a certain area (like at a major intersection or near a body of water). The business plan might fall through if it turns out that zoning ordinances prohibit some business operations in that area.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with Business Licenses and Zoning Categories?

It is very important to understand the interaction between business licenses and zoning categories. At times, zoning laws can be very complex, with some zones being applied in some areas, but not in others. Also, some areas in a city can be subject to a mix of different zoning categories. Thus, you may wish to contact an experienced business lawyer for advice and guidance when setting up your business plan. Your attorney can help you with business planning and can also represent you in court if any legal disputes arise over a zoning law.

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Last Modified: 02-11-2014 12:48 PM PST

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