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Midvale Journal

Government 101: Types of zoning

Apr 30, 2022 11:32AM ● By Erin Dixon

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

Pieces of land, or parcels, in a city are divided into zones. The zone is a description of what is allowed—buildings, open space, parking, etc.—on that property. Property owners can only build what is allowed by zone, though they can always appeal for a zone change.

Usually, if two neighboring zones are different, they must complement each other in some way. It is unlikely that a single-family residential zone will be next to a large manufacturing zone, unless divided by a major road or landmark.

Who is responsible for zoning?

Each city has a master plan map that shows the borders of the different zones in the city. To begin making a zoning map, the city planning department will host “charrettes,” public workshops and meetings with the public to decide the best use for each zone.

The zones are recorded on a Master Plan.

How to change zones?

If a property owner wants to change the zone, they must get approval from the city. First, they submit an application to the planning department. The application will be reviewed by city staff, then passed to the Planning Commission. (The commission is a group of volunteer residents that are the front lines of city plan proposals before it goes to the council.) The final say comes from the city council, the elected legislative body. However, the council usually takes advice from the city planning employees. There is always a public hearing if a property owner requests a zone change. Residents can talk to their city representative if they have concerns.

Common zones in Salt Lake County

The exact labels may vary from city to city, but the basic concept will be the same.

AG - Agriculture preserve and protect agricultural uses in suitable portions of Salt Lake City until these lands can be developed for the most appropriate use.

BP - Business Park Offices, light assembly and warehouses.

M (M-1, M-2) - Manufacturing is for making products or warehouses. These may be loud and busy.

NOS - Natural Open Space protects important natural open land areas of citywide or regional importance.

OS - Open Space preserves areas of public and private open space and have more rules over what the space can be used for. 

PF - Public Facility is a place for government buildings, libraries and schools.

R (R-1-12,000, R-1-7,000, R-2, R-3, etc.) - Residential is for homes. The last number in the label is the smallest square footage allowed for each property. Ex: R-1-7,000, homes cannot be any less than 7,000 square feet. R-2 and R-3 allow homes to be closer together. The higher the number in the zone, the more homes allowed on an acre.

RR - Rural Residential, space for low density properties with few residents and allows for limited farming.

RMF (RMF 35, 45, etc.) - Residential Multi-Family allows for different types of homes that hold more than one family. The number restricts the allowed height of the building(s).

CB - Community Business allows for mid-sized commercial businesses to be next to residential areas. 

CC - Commercial Corridor allows for a collection of commercial buildings and are placed along high-traffic roads and freeways.

CG - General Commercial can be used for small and large retail, entertainment, offices and light manufacturing. 

Note on churches: A religious building is allowed on most zones, with city approval.