Zoning May Remake What's All Trees Today

Article excerpt

Byline: M. Anthony Carr, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The way your lot is zoned does not necessarily mean it will never be changed.

Farms become single-family communities, which in turn can become apartment dwellings, which in turn can be converted into industrial space. It all depends on the needs of a community and what's happening with the land at the time those needs arise.

Today's elementary school could have been yesterday's pig farm, depending on the zoning regulations at the time.

It's kind of a stop-in-your-tracks thought, but one that sheds some light on how an area develops as its population grows.

When you look at a house with thick woods behind it, one of the first thoughts in your mind should be: "How is that zoned?"

The zoning will determine the development allowed - what kind of buildings and businesses, the number of houses per acre, the square footage of the lots and buildings, the height of a building, the use of the land.

Your first search should be at the county or city planner's office to look at the master plan, which can be redesigned as often as every five years or as infrequently as every 25 years. It mostly depends on the speed of growth in the community.

Zone assignments can get pretty comprehensive, and a zoning definition in one county doesn't necessarily carry over to the next county.

For instance, what is "M"? "Manufacturing," right? Not so fast. One area's manufacturing designation could be another area's mixed use. It depends on how the planners in a particular area decided to set up its zoning definitions.

For instance, I counted 46 zone designations inside roughly 29 districts covering land use for all sorts of reasons at the Los Angeles City Department of Planning (http://cityplanning.lacity.org/).

Residential (R zones) and commercial (C zones) are two of the most commonly known and understood, but have you heard of a zone for oil drilling (an O zone - really, no pun intended), equine keeping (K zones) or submerged land, such as fishing and shipping (SL zones)? …