Zoning is not the buyer's choice

Real Estate Agent with Kettley and Company

I deal with lots of rural property in an area that is quickly changing to residential. I just showed a 13 acre beautiful property that was zoned residential with $8500 per year taxes. The owner claimed it could be zoned for horses just by putting horses on the property. That is not the case. The zoning department is not necessarily the friend of land owners and more likely friends with the tax assessor.

The zoning department was originally created to protect unknowing potential buyers from unscrupulous builders and developers. They established minimums and maximums for such things as setbacks, building size, usage of the property and safety for the general public. 

Today to change a property from one zoning to another you can look at the tax basis to ascertain how a property is likely to be zoned. The higher the tax rate the easier to get zoning changed to that higher rate. It is fairly difficult to get zoning down zoned hence from business to residential or in our case residential back to agricultural. These are questions that you should ask your realtor and possibly need to retain an attorney to straighten out before closing on properties today. 

Comments (6)

Cape Coral Florida Golf Course and Waterfront Homes
Gulf Coast Realty Network, Inc. - Cape Coral, FL

Here in SW Florida, "down-zoning" is fairly common, although in most cases, you may pull building permits for a lower classification without much comment.  So, if a person wants to build a residence smack in the middle of a commercial area, that will usually be approved without a zoning change.  Guess they figure that time will take care of that issue.
Agicultural exemptions have to be applied for, but again are fairly common, especially if someone else has the same deal going nearby.  So we see fields of goats right in the middle of downtown Fort Myers.  Again, market values and time will take care of the issue.

May 17, 2008 05:29 AM
Randy Lyon
Kettley and Company - Oswego, IL

Thank you Cape Coral. The property taxes are much lower in Florida as well, which is why the powers that be are not as reluctant to down zone here in Illinois. It is not effecting the school budget or the park district. Here in Illinois it would have a domino effect on the taxing districts. Thank you for the comparison. It makes a lot of sense.

May 17, 2008 05:35 AM
Adam Brett
The Adam and Eric Group - Fullerton, CA
The Adam and Eric Group, Fullerton's Finest

We have a lot of zoning issues here in Orange County, CA - but I tell people this is part of the diligence which must be followed.

May 17, 2008 06:00 AM
Greg Zaccagni
The Federal Savings Bank - Wheaton, IL
Illinois Mortgage Lender

Thanks for the info.  Thought you just needed a minimum of 5 acres for hoarses?



Jun 28, 2008 04:46 PM
Randy Lyon
Kettley and Company - Oswego, IL

Hi Greg,

There is a common sense approach which says no more than 2 horses per acre. That will allow them to graze on pasture instead of wallowing in mud. It also depends on whether or not you own the horses or if you are boarding horses. The zoning varies from county to county as Adam says do your due diligence when showing mixed zoning areas.

Jun 30, 2008 08:09 AM
Kathleen Lordbock
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Baxter, MN
Keller Williams Realty Professionals

Our County zoning would agree with that- horses should have a minimum of 1 horse/ 2 acre with our weather. And there is a difference in having a horse for your own enjoyment and keeping other's horses for a profit(or loss as is usually the case). I have 80 acres and currently only 8 horses

Oct 05, 2010 05:12 PM