Florida business owners and land developers who have plans for a specific piece of property must ensure that the purpose conforms to land use and zoning regulations. If you have already purchased the parcel, restrictions may hinder its development.

Zoning and land use are two terms that are often used interchangeably. While land use and zoning laws refer to the regulation of both the use and development of real estate, zoning is one of the most common types of land use regulations. Land use more broadly refers to the future and planning out a community, while zoning refers to how land within a community can currently be used. Read below for a deeper dive into the differences between the two.

What is zoning?

According to Investopedia, county and municipal laws dictate zoning, or how property both can and cannot be used in certain areas. Government restrictions help plan for growth and ensure efficient use of resources for general public safety.

Zoning details the uses allowed on specific property parcels. Although it can impact community growth, the focus is on how the property use contributes to the area and whether it is compatible with surrounding applications. It encompasses restrictions such as the following:

  • Structure size and height
  • Utilities
  • Distance from the street

The Florida Legislature and Courts establish property owner rights and obligations while each local government develops its own land development code and plan.

Land use laws

The future land use map is a local government’s comprehensive plan for community development and growth. Planning professionals look to this map, taking into account the population’s general welfare, when analyzing long-term growth. This plan looks several decades ahead, rather than focusing on the next few years.

The goal is to prevent inefficient use of transportation and utility resources, as well as avoiding urban sprawl. Property owners and developers whose purposes contradict land-use plans must typically work for an amendment to the future land use map.

Zoning and land use matters can become complex and often require a detailed approach to achieve development goals. An experienced attorney can help to clear confusion and determine the best route forward to pursue what you wish to accomplish.