Land Use & Zoning in Minnesota

Every city in the United States has the authority to divide up land into zones. The authority to do so comes from the local ordinances of each city.

Zoning is the division of an area into separate districts, designating specific districts for specific uses. Municipalities are allowed to zone their land in order to protect the public health, safety, and general welfare of the community. Zones determine what kind of building or business can reside in a particular zone. The most common zoning difference is between zones for family housing and zones for commercial businesses. In general, a commercial business cannot be located in a zoning district established for family homes.

In addition to zoning, a city has several local ordinances. These ordinances explain the rules for building on a certain lot of land, including how high a structure can be, how close to the road, how far from other structures it must be, and other such specifications.

Zoning and ordinances are intended to serve the public and to carry out the best interests of the community. There are, however, issues that surround zoning and local ordinances. The following is a list of topics that oftentimes come to the surface when discussing zoning:

It is important for individuals, as well as real estate developers and construction companies, to have an understanding of local zoning and land use regulations. The following summaries provided address each one of these topics separately and discuss what some of the issues are in Minnesota, what laws relate to these topics in Minnesota, and what the courts in Minnesota are saying about them.


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