Local zoning laws have a tendency to shift and change over time. As a city or community shifts and changes, so do the zoning laws that dictate how various buildings and lots can be used. Just look at the number of businesses in a city center that are located in what used to be residential housing and you will notice how true these changes can be. Whether you are looking for a space to put a new business or dealing with an existing business location, it is important to check the zoning regulations to make sure that the location is suitable for the business operations.
Zoning is determined based on what else is going on in a region or area. For example, is it residential, business, or zoned for park or other development? Just because the lot next door is zoned for business does not mean that the one you are looking at is as well. It is important to check with the local zoning office to find out exactly what the regulations before you decide on a location for a business. If possible, ask questions about potential changes while you are doing your investigating. The zoning professionals may be able to tell you the general trends in a certain area or neighborhood and give you a heads up for any laws or changes that could affect your business location.
If you are considering starting a home-based business or doing work from home, it is especially important to check on the zoning regulations of your home and neighborhood. There may be zoning laws that prohibit certain types of home businesses but allow for others or they may dictate what parts of the home or property can be used for commercial activities. It is far better to research and determine the zoning restrictions and allowances BEFORE you get started. Other licenses and registrations may hinge on your being in compliance with zoning regulations.
If your business operations change (say you want to add a commercial kitchen or begin doing child care or adult care) then you will need to go back and verify that the zoning regulations allow for the activities. It is possible to request a change to the zoning but it will take time, paperwork and expense. The first step, however, is knowing exactly where things stand in the “zoning department” so you can choose and/or change your business location to fit the work you plan to do.