What is zoning?

Zoning is the main regulatory tool used by local governments to manage the use and form of development on private property. It includes regulations for:

  • The type of residence, business, community use, or other activity (land use) appropriate for a property.
  • The density and intensity of the use of land,
  • The size, height, and setback of buildings and accessories,
  • The amount of land that can be covered on a property,
  • And a range of other things like landscaping, urban design, drive-throughs, home occupations, parking, etc.!

These rules are different in every community, because they reflect the goals, values, and history of a place. Zoning also is an important tool to implement a community’s Comprehensive Plan (Roselle updated its Comprehensive Plan in 2016 – See Roselle’s Comprehensive Plan here).

Zoning regulations are compiled into a Zoning Ordinance (view Roselle’s current Ordinance here!), which is made up of text and a map (Roselle’s Zoning Map):

  • The text describes regulations for different land use zones, density standards, allowable uses, development standards, and administrative processes.
  • The zoning map shows how the community is divided into zoning districts that separate activities that may have negative impacts on neighbors.  

What are zoning districts?

Zoning districts are areas of similar and compatible land uses found in a part of the community, for example: Residential, Commercial, and Industrial. Typically there are multiple districts in each of these categories, and each will have different rules for what can be built (i.e. an R-1 District will allow only single-family homes, while an R-4 District allows for apartment buildings).

Residential, Commercial, and Industrial examples in Roselle

What’s included in Zoning district regulations?

Within a Zoning Ordinance, the Zoning District Standards provide the Purpose, Uses, and Bulk and Yard Requirements for each district.

  • Purpose – A statement to describe the objectives of the zoning district so that the rules are applied in a clear and consistent manner.
  • Uses – Each zoning district has a list of permitted and special uses:
    • Permitted use: a land use that is clearly compatible with the zoning district’s purpose, and for which no special zoning permission is required.
    • Special use: a land use that may have adverse impacts on neighboring properties and requires specific permission, and perhaps conditions for operation; these uses require a public hearing and Village Board approval.
  • Bulk and Yard Requirements –Development standards (see below) that govern the size, shape, height, etc. of built improvements. 

What are development standards?

Zoning Ordinances establish development standards that work together to create a look and feel for different parts of the community. This is part of the reason that development in the Roselle Town Center and along Lake Street look different. The standards include regulations on matters like lot size, building setbacks, building height, density, lot coverage, open space, landscaping, and parking. A few of these key terms are defined below:

  • Building setbacks are the required minimum distances structures must be “set back” from property lines
  • Lot coverage is the allowable percentage of a lot that may be covered by structures and pavement
  • Density is a ratio of the total number of dwellings on a property to the amount of land (expressed as how many units per acre).
  • Parking requirements are included to ensure that adequate spaces are available for varying types of land uses.
  • Landscaping standards are included to support more attractive and environmentally sensitive developments.

What if I want to build in a way not allowed by the zoning ordinance?

A zoning variation is a relief from certain zoning requirements “where, due to conditions peculiar to the property and not the direct result of the actions of the owner, a literal enforcement of the ordinance would result in practical difficulties or unnecessary hardship.” –Roselle Code of Ordinances / Appendix A / Section 3.02

This means that in some circumstances a property owner can seek a zoning variation when a unique or unusual aspect of their properties makes it impossible to otherwise meet certain zoning standards, which can be relaxed in order to accommodate construction. Variations are granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

Are Zoning Ordinances and Building Codes the same thing?

No, they are different. As described here, the Zoning Ordinance considers what type of use and structure can be built on a particular property. If zoning standards are met, the building code standards are applied through the  building permit process. Building regulations deal with the structure itself (i.e. physical features, safety, and accessibility). Both sets of rules are considered and applied by architects, engineers, builders and contractors.

Why is zoning important?

Zoning regulations provide predictability for property owners and neighbors, helping to promote livable and economically viable communities by balancing the needs of homeowners, businesses, industry, institutions, and other community priorities. Zoning helps to protect public health, safety, and property values, and make neighborhoods nicer places to live and business areas comfortable places to shop and work.