Zoning - Some Things You Should Be Aware Of!

The last few blog posts I have written have been about energy, so today I wanted to write a little bit about architecture.  One of the most challenging things about architecture is zoning.  Contrary to popular belief, you can not simply do whatever you want to do on your own property. This has come to light in a few different situations recently.Many towns have zoning regulations.  The town where I live has some of the strictest regulations for the agriculture resource protection zone.  It does not allow individuals to build homes on their property unless they are associated with a farming operation and they make more then 50% of their income from said farm.  We have discovered, by looking into this issue, that our comprehensive zoning contradicts itself.  It both states that it is preserved for farming, and also preserved for future land development.  But I digress, the real issue here is, you can't build a home in the agriculture district because the city is trying to prevent sprawl with zoning.I ran into another issue recently where someone I know wanted to start a business at their home.  They went to the city to register their business only to be told that it was not an allowable use in their zoning district.  In order to operate their business from home they would need to have the zoning changed, or apply for a special exception.  Seems easy, but the city does not have any intentions of changing the zoning in that area after the 2010 comprehensive study was done projecting the next 20 years.  And although this one instance may be a good idea, opening the zoning to the potential for others to do this same type of business anywhere in the city that has this zoning may not be a good use change and is unlikely to happen.So before you go to buy that house you love, make sure you check the zoning for things you think you might want to do in the future.  Or before you build that house you love, make sure the zoning allows you to do what you want with the property.  Or before you buy that piece of property in the agriculture zone that is cheap and has a great low tax rate, consider the fact that you will not be able to put your home wherever you want on your property.These are things that hiring an architect to lead you through a project can help you to understand.  So if you are considering a project, make sure you also consider hiring a professional to help guide you through the process, because it's going to be more complicated then you imagined!