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Zoning is a system of land use regulation which designates the permitted uses of land based on location. One purpose of zoning is to prevent new development from harming existing residents or businesses.

Zoning commonly includes regulation on what kinds of activities are acceptable on particular lots (such as open space, residential, agricultural, commercial or industrial), the densities at which those activities can be performed (low density housing such as single family homes to high density such as apartment buildings), the height of buildings, the amount of space structures may occupy by limiting how close a building may be from the edge of the lot, the proportions of the types of space on a lot (for example - how much landscaped space and how much paved space), and how much parking must be provided.

Most zoning systems have a procedure for a variance, meaning that not all zoning rules will be applied in a specific case, usually because of some perceived hardship due to the particular nature of the property in question.

Arguments against zoning generally center around the concept of regulatory taking. In the United States, takings are forbidden by the Fifth Amendment. Previously, zoning has been considered the source of certain social ills, including the separation of homes from working places and the rise of the automobile culture.

Many modern zoning laws recognize that there are social engineering implications. Some jursidictions attempting to manage growth have turned to comprehensive planning[?] to coordinate the growth of housing, industry, commercial with the impacts growth has on issues such as transportation, utilities, recreation, schools, fire protection and police protection.

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