Commonly Used Zoning Terms

Posted by Joe on 02/26/2016

Municipal and local governments utilize zoning ordinances that dictate how real property can and cannot be used in particular districts. Although every jurisdiction’s zoning code is different, there are some terms and definitions that are somewhat universal in the context of zoning regulations.

Accessory Building – A Building subordinate to a Principal Building on a Lot
Building Separation – The distance between Structures on a Lot
Buffer Yard – A strip of Planting providing distance between Property and Street or differing Zoning Use
Building Coverage – The percentage of the total Lot occupied by Structures; sometimes labeled as Lot Coverage. Requirement varies by jurisdiction; see Impervious Coverage
Building Footprint – Area measured outside the perimeter of the Structure
Building Height – A measurement typically taken from the Lot Grade at Building Front to the top of a Flat Roof, Peaked Roof or the mean distance between the eaves and ridges of gable, hip and mansard roofs. Definition varies by jurisdiction
Build-to-Zone – Area running along Property Line in which the Building Facade must be built
Corner Lot – A Lot that has frontage on more than one intersecting Street
Certificate of Occupancy – A document that permits a Tenant’s occupancy in a Structure
Floor Area Ratio – The ratio of Building Floor Area to Site Area in Square Feet
Frontage – The portion of the Site abutting the Street
Front Yard – Area between Side Lot Lines, typically abutting a Street
Impervious Surface Coverage – The percentage of the total Lot occupied by Structures, Roads, Parking Areas and other impermeable construction materials. Requirement varies by jurisdiction; see Building Coverage
Landscaping – Area improved with plant materials, reserved for decoration and recreation
Legal Nonconforming – A Use or Structure which complied with the regulations applicable to the district at development which is now grandfathered due to changes in the Zoning Code subsequent to the development of the Property, the pre-existence of the Property before inception of the Zoning Code, re-zoning of the Property, or the Property’s pre-existence in an Area prior to annexation
Lot Depth – The distance between the Front and Rear Lot Lines
Lot Width – The distance between the Side Lot Lines at the Front Setback line
Mixed Use – A Building in which Uses include a mix of Residential and Commercial, Retail or Office Uses
Multi-Family Development – A grouping of Structures containing 1 or more Dwelling Units
Nonconforming – A Use or Structure which does not comply with the regulations applicable to the district
Principal Building – A Building in which the primary Use on the Property is conducted
Rear Yard – An area the Width of the Lot Line opposite the Front Yard
Setback – A line within the Lot establishing the placement of a Structure in relation to the Lot Lines
Side Yard – An area extending the Depth between the Front and Rear Yards
Through Lot – A Lot that has frontage on two Streets in which the Frontages do not intersect

Zero Lot Line – The placement of a Building on a Lot in which the Structure rests on the Lot Line