Most municipalities have some form of Zoning to regulate the use of land by distrct maps. Each district has a list of permitted uses and special use permits for extraordinary uses, for example, RSF-3 = residential single family homes at density factor 3, regulating the lot size and total units per acre. More intensive uses would include all Multi-family (RMF) districts for higher density apartment and condo development. Commercial (CN,CG) and Industrial ( I, ILW, PID) comprise the most intense districts, with restaraunts, retail sales, warehouse, manufacturing and other commerce. Zoning dictricts also dictate physical site development criteria such as building height, setbacks, lot coverage, landscape and parking requirements. Property owners may petition for a re-zoning of land, provided it meets the requirements of the comprehensive or future land-use plan, documents which guide development concurrent with planned infrastructure improvements. When an existing use or building pre-dates the adoption of the current zoning code and does not conform to the new code, it is considered a non-conforming or grandfathered use. This should not be confused with an illegal use which occurs after the date of current regulations. Usually, non-conforming uses may be allowed to exist or they may be amortized into conformance over a time period of years. It's sometimes difficult to determine if a property is non-confoming or illegal, especially if it was built prior to current regulations. An experienced agent should advise their clients accordingly, especially when dealing with properties in a FEMA flood zone, especially since most Zoning Depts. administer the FEMA rules. When buying a property that contains improvements below the flood plain, consult and experienced agent and get all disclosures about the property. My Zoning and development experience has helped my clients make the right decisions. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions.