Business zoning laws define where business activities can and cannot be legally performed. Most cities divide land geographically into at least two major types of zones: residential zones and business/commercial zones. Business activities are generally restricted to only business zones.

This means that business activities cannot usually be performed in residential areas such as houses, apartment complexes, condominiums, and other similar areas. Some cities also include other zone types like “industrial” or “agricultural.”

What Is the Purpose of Business Zoning?

One of the main motivations behind business zoning laws is to keep residential neighborhoods isolated from regular business activities. Business operations can sometimes create unwanted noise, traffic, pollution, and other concerns that are unsuitable for residential areas. Business laws also help to keep businesses organized in central locations throughout the city. These conditions can often help businesses to thrive and grow on their own.

What Qualifies as a “Business Activity”?

Most state and city laws define “business activity” as any activity that is performed as part of a commercial enterprise, for the purpose of making profit. This doesn’t have to include only the final sales transaction, but can also include intermediate steps such as:

  • Packaging
  • Shipping
  • Labeling
  • Sorting

If any of these types of operations are conducted in a non-business zone, it can affect the person’s business license. It may be possible to apply for a home business license under certain circumstances.

What If Business Zoning Laws Are Violated?

Violations of business zoning laws can result in:

  • A repeal/suspension of license
  • Monetary fines
  • Civil charges, especially if persons or property have been damaged or injured due to the unauthorized business activity
  • An injunction to cease the unauthorized business (an example of this is cease order for unauthorized pollution)

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with Business Zoning Laws?

Business zoning laws can be very different from city to city. In fact, business zoning can sometimes be different from place to place within the same city. If you have any questions regarding zoning laws or any other business concerns, you may need to hire a qualified business lawyer or real estate lawyer. Your attorney can provide you with the legal guidance and advice that is necessary for your particular needs. Also, your lawyer can represent you in court if you need to file a lawsuit involving a business zoning law.