Zoning is an important toolkit for the Town in shaping growth and development. It supports the goals and objectives of the comprehensive plan. Zoning is designed protect property values and guide development in a harmonious fashion. In other words, it shapes the visual appearance and features reflecting the community's vision. That vision dictates what is appropriate or not, how existing and future development should complement one another, what is no longer acceptable, define land use patterns, influences street networks, and structures' orientation to the street. Zoning fundamental building block is the land uses. This refers to the primary use of a property. A land use survey and evaluation lends to patterns that translate into zoning districts. Zoning districts are a community's classifications of geographical areas which outlines appropriate land uses and standards. Standards include building height, setbacks [distances from property lines], signs, and buffers between uses to name a few. Zoning districts and standards make up a zoning ordinance which is the legal document used to administer zoning. The ordinance is only half of the process. The other is the Official Zoning Map. The ordinance provides the text. The Official Zoning Map is the visual. Both substantiate the other. If a property is rezoned, the map must be updated as well. It is similar to a property's plat and deed. The deed is the text that describes the property; the plat is the visual description of the property. Both are legal references. The Official Zoning Map ensures the appropriate standards are applied. Zoning ordinances can include historic preservation, landscaping, signage criteria, and other standards seen relevant to a community.
There are three boards associated with zoning or land development standards. Each has distinctive function that serve as bridges connecting the public and local government. It is a partnership. The boards are the Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), and Board of Architectural Review (BAR). These members are local residents, community leaders, and professionals appointed by the Mayor. They act as the pulse of the community by reflecting community consensus and serving as an advocate. Briefly, below are their roles with the exception of the BAR which was discussed earlier.
Planning Commission is part of the legislative process. They affect policy. Their role is to:
The Board of Zoning Appeal functions a little differently. Its role is to hear and adjudicate on decisions making it a quasi-judicial body. Quasi-judicial means the board acts as a court requiring it to follow procedural process. Its decisions are based on witness testimony and evidence of fact. BZA's decision can only be appealed to the circuit court then to the proceeding courts ending with the Supreme Court. Appeal must be made to the circuit court within 30 days of the decision. Therefore, there is more scrutiny in these hearings and deliberations.