How to do a Zoning Analysis, Part 1
Get out your calculator!
Last week, I wrote a post about the basics of what Zoning is. But...how do you actually use it? Read it? Understand how it affects your project, your ideas, and your proforma?
As usual, the answer is more complicated than we'd all like it to be. For starters, every jurisdiction is completely different - zoning is written and administered by local city or town government. So what is allowed in one town is not only completely different than what's allowed in a neighboring town, the whole entire *process* is different.
That said, there are some basics that are relatively similar, no matter where you're working. Master the principles of these basics, and you'll be well on your way to understanding zoning anywhere you're working.
This is Part 1 - as I was writing, things got long - so stay tuned for Part 2 next week!
This article assumes you've got a baseline understanding of what zoning is and what it does. If you'd like a more basic overview, check out this post here.
For the purposes of illustration, I’ll use the zoning ordinance from Cambridge, MA, which is one I know quite well, and which has many elements of zoning code common to many jurisdictions.
Ok, let's dive in.
1. Look up your zoning ordinance.
They're almost always posted online, and can be found by googling "[your town] zoning" - way easier than wading through cumbersome local government websites. Browse through it. Zoning ordinances are usually set up with an intro chapter explaining when the code was written and by whom, and a chapter with a series of definitions.
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