Sunday, February 11, 2007


  1. Zoning
    1. Zoning is a North American system of land-use regulation. The word is derived from the practice of designating permitted uses of land based on mapped zones which separate one part of a community from another. Zoning regulations fall under the police power rights governments may exercise over real property. Theoretically, its primary purpose is to segregate uses that are thought to be incompatible; in practice, zoning is used as a permitting system to prevent new development from harming existing residents or businesses. Zoning is commonly controlled by local governments such as counties or municipalities. Zoning commonly includes regulation of the kinds of activities which will be acceptable on particular lots (such as open space, residential, agricultural, commercial or industrial), the densities at which those activities can be performed (from low-density housing such as single family homes to high-density such as high-rise apartment buildings), the height of buildings, the amount of space structures may occupy, the location of a building on the lot (setbacks), the proportions of the types of space on a lot (for example, how much landscaped space and how much paved space), and how much parking must be provided.
  2. Program
    1. The general intended use of a space is determined by the zoning rules, first and foremost. A property deemed residential by zoning cannot have a grocery store built there for example. The reverse is true as well. Although these regulations can be changed or altered over time, it is difficult to change and requires a multitude of legal paperwork. However, zoning regulations are often vague, allowing for variations in use. A property for commercial use could be any number of businesses.
  3. Public/Private
    1. Public areas have a certain vibe and flavor that is not found in commercial areas just as commercial areas have a busy feel and largeness not found in most residential areas. Our society has taught each of us how to differentiate between the two. Green front yards free of signage indicate residential, privately owned homes while huge parking lots littered with advertising and signs is clearly commercial. Most times, private sectors and public sectors are separated. A common theme is to have a layer of commercial usage along side major thoroughfares followed by multiple layers of private residence. Again, it is the intent of zoning laws to separate these two kinds of area to increase the privacy and quality of life within a residential area.
  4. Perception/Communication
    1. When it comes to commercial areas, signage is the main mode of communication about the program and usage of a building to the public. Signs on buildings display the name of the building as well as a small caption explaining its purpose (Ex. Java Hut… Coffee House and Bakery). This allows the passer-byer to determine if the place is of use to them or not without have to step foot in every building he or she sees. This is an informal communication between the consumer and the distributor. When it comes to residential communication, addresses are the most vital piece of the puzzle. These short numbers provide a distinct location of a home in an orderly manner. This is a way for a person that lives at a certain place to share that information with mail men, the government and visitors. Although it is not a large sign such as those seen in residential areas, it is a sign none the less communicating a specific use (who lives there) of a building.

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