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Understanding Zoning Laws

Downtown Camp Hill
Most municipalities in Cumberland County have zoning laws. Essentially, these laws divide each municipality or region into zoning districts and set regulations about which types of buildings and businesses are permitted in each district.

Zoning laws are beneficial for communities. They help to prevent incompatible land uses such as a factory being built right next to a school or residential area and allow for easier transportation.

However, they can also be confusing and difficult to navigate at first. Zoning laws determine what businesses can open where and what kinds of buildings can be built in specific areas.

Not understanding zoning laws can cause delays with your business plans and can be costly to resolve. If you make a mistake with zoning laws, you could end up buying or leasing in an area where you cannot fulfill your plans. You may find your plans to build or expand affected by these regulations. In some cases, you may even face fines if you inadvertently violate one of these laws.

Zoning Laws

Zoning laws govern how land in specific areas can be used. These laws regulate  the use of land including the size, height, bulk and construction of structures, as well as, the type of business occupying the structure. They help regulate business growth and ensure the safety and viability of a community.

It is important to remember that these laws are  subject to change over time. Even if you are in compliance with current laws, certain groups may be lobbying to change zoning regulations in your area. Business owners need to consider not just current rules but also expected changes when moving into an area.

Zoning districts within a community typically include:

  • Industrial
  • Recreational
  • Agricultural
  • Commercial
  • Mixed use (residential and commercial)
  • Residential
  • Rural

Business leaders need to be aware of zoning laws that affect:

  • Waste management
  • Air quality
  • Parking requirements
  • Building size and use
  • Signage regulations
  • Outdoor seating restrictions
  • Building appearance regulations
  • Rules regarding number of similar businesses within any specific zone

Cumberland Area Zoning Laws

Cumberland County is the fastest-growing county in Pennsylvania and there is room for more growth. Zoning regulations in the county can be found at the Land Use Law Library online or through the Cumberland County planning department. You can also find zoning maps of the area online.

How Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) Can Help

Zoning laws can be complex, but they are essential to understand before you open a new business. You do not want to acquire or lease a property only to discover you are in violation of zoning laws because you offer customer parking in an area where it is not allowed. Since regulations can affect everything from your business marketing efforts in signage to customer seating areas, it is important you understand the rules before you start looking for a company location. You will also want to keep your future plans in mind to ensure zoning laws allow you to expand as you wish.

Fortunately, CAEDC can help and can even suggest business sites that suit your needs. We help you determine which zones are most suitable for your business and even have financing and grant help to ensure you can afford to open your doors.

CAEDC also has strong partnerships with all the municipalities in Cumberland County. If you’d like help navigating zoning laws and need to be connected to your municipality, please contact CAEDC at 717-240-7180.

CAEDC also has staff with experience in community planning including certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners.

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