July 27, 2021
What Are Residential Zoning Laws?
To define and explain residential zoning laws, we must first define zoning. Zoning is a planning tool that controls and regulates a built environment, which includes but is not limited to residential areas, such as small towns or streets of homeowners. This works to create and maintain a local and functioning real estate market for the small town or street(s) in question.
But now, how is zoning done? Zoning is used by local and national authorities to stimulate or slow down development in specific areas. In Pennsylvania and across the United States, municipalities and counties control zoning. This finally brings us to the residential zoning laws of Scranton, PA, and the nearby areas, which have their own rules and regulations.
Why Zoning Laws are Important
Typically, residential zoning laws are designed “for the health, safety, and general welfare of the public.” The rules create restrictions that reflect the wishes of the majority of people living in the zoning area. People want to live a certain way and expect people to live similarly if they move into the area, with exceptions.
Some examples of what residential zoning laws can include:
- Restrictions on noise levels.
- Restrict streets/residential areas to only residential homes; no businesses near the residential homes.
- Prevent certain businesses from building close to residential areas.
- Prevent short-term rentals; no homeowners can turn their home into Airbnb.
These zoning laws can work to revitalize residential areas, typically in ways called gentrification and redevelopment. They also work to maintain commercial and residential property value.
The Threat of Residential Zoning Laws
Residential zoning laws have all the great intentions, and sometimes live up to them, but they can also set people up to be incriminated. Zoning laws are not common knowledge, nor are they made apparent to everyone who lives under them.
The courts of Pennsylvania will not accept ignorance as an excuse, which has left many in trouble. Short-term rentals are a common point of contention in Scranton, PA. Many people don’t want to allow businesses like Airbnb into their neighborhoods and use residential zoning laws in PA to prove that people can’t. Of course, the people who use Airbnb argue the opposite.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that in the Township of Hamilton, their zoning board was legally allowed to bar Airbnb. Their zone only allowed “single-dwelling units,” meaning that if people were coming in and out, it could no longer count as such.
Contact Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano for Residential Zoning Law Attorneys
When you’re not sure whether or not you’ve broken your local zoning laws, or have been charged with breaking them, contact Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano for representation. We can help you find the right way to respond and proceed with your defense.