The following is a break down of the most important differences between planning and zoning concerning land use: 

  • Planning : Many states authorize the creation of local planning boards, and some require that land use regulations be consistent with a comprehensive land use plan. Consequently, many districts have a Planning Commission, whose primary functions usually precede the enactment of land use regulations by the local legislative body.
    • General Plans : Local planning commissions are commonly charged with drafting a comprehensive plan that will act to direct and limit future land use regulation. Despite the requirement of planning in most state statutes, many courts do not require that a formal plan exist as a prerequisite to land use regulation.
  • Zoning : Zoning laws usually consist of a zoning ordinance, specifying the regulations applicable to each zone, and a zoning map, indicating the zone characteristics of each parcel of land within the community. Zones may be regulated as to use, height, and land coverage. Within each district or zone, the applicable restrictions should be uniform.

Should I Contact a Property Attorney with My Planning and Zoning Questions?

If you are interested in altering your land, and do not know what local rules apply, the advice of a real estate attorney can be extremely helpful. As you begin this process, because of its complex legal nature, you may find it beneficial to have a property attorney explain both the laws and requirements that govern your situation.