A major purpose of zoning is to put land to the use for which it is best suited. Of course, determining the best use for land is not always easy. Some land is best left to be cultivated because of its unique soil characteristics. Other land may be ideally suited for commercial development because it is located near a major highway. Other land, located near a railroad or airport, for example, may be prime land for an industrial park. Agricultural or open space uses may be the best for lands located in a flood plain.
Another issue, however, is to determine what appears to be the best potential use of specific parcels of land in the future. This involves the process of future land use planning. A good future land use plan must consider economic and social factors as well as physical characteristics of the land. Land in Ohio best suited for farming is often also the best land for housing developments. In such instances, it is necessary for local residents and decision-makers to determine what they want their area to be in the future and to conduct a program that will achieve this desire. In making decisions about the future of their area, however, local officials should consider the needs and characteristics of the larger region, as well as their immediate area.
Another important purpose of zoning is to protect or maintain property values. Zoning can protect the value of property by assuring that incompatible uses will be kept apart. Zoning can keep factories out of residential areas (which could lower the value of homes in the immediate vicinity), as well as keep residential developments from locating in industrial areas.
Zoning can also promote the public health and safety by requiring that lots be large enough to allow for the safe disposal of septic tank effluent, and by requiring that homes be spaced far enough apart that fires will not spread easily. The promotion of public health and safety are the two basic purposes for which counties and townships are authorized to enact zoning.
Zoning also provides for more orderly development. Regulations pertaining to lot size, set back lines, building height, and population density can make areas more attractive. With zoning local residents can ensure that poor development will not occur.
Finally, zoning can be important in attracting business and industry to an area. Sufficient good land should be zoned for business and industry that is uniquely suited for business and industry and has adequate access and public facilities.