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The basics of commercial zoning

Zoning laws are important for the organization of communities, to ensure the health and safety of residents. These zoning ordinances -- also referred to as land use regulations -- ensure that different areas of a city are used for different kinds of business activities. These laws may also dictate how a building can look, where it's located in relation to the roadway and how tall it can be.

It is essential to review the commercial zoning laws that pertain to a particular piece of real estate before a business purchases it. That is because of the danger that the real estate might not be usable for the business' intended purposes. If a business buys a $10 million piece of property to be used as a massive tire manufacturing facility, but zoning laws disallow such industrial activity, it could represent a serious financial loss.

Cities like San Antonio usually categorize property under the following five zones:

-- Recreational: This is land that can be used for building sports parks and used for other leisurely activities.

-- Agricultural: This is land where large-scale farming activities can be pursued.

-- Industrial: This land may be used for manufacturing pursuits.

-- Commercial: This land can be used by retail stores, offices and other business applications.

-- Residential: This is land that has been reserved for residential areas. It's usually split up into multifamily and single family residences.

Nobody wants a smoggy steel processing plant right behind their home, and this is partly why zoning laws are so important. They organize the activities of city residents in a way to make life within the city pleasant, more smoothly operating and more enjoyable.

Just because a zoning law has been put in place, however, does not mean that you can't get it changed. With the help of a skilled commercial property lawyer, you might be able to change the zoning laws as they apply to a specific piece of property so that you can use it for the business pursuits you intend.

Source: FindLaw, "Commercial Zoning," accessed March 15, 2017

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