Ryan Heiland

Ryan Heiland

Maryville Assistant City Manager

Several weeks ago, Maryville 101 discussed the Maryville Comprehensive Plan and its importance for guiding development and land use throughout the community.  The main tool utilized in implementing the land use vision of the plan is the zoning ordinance.  

Traditionally, the zoning ordinance consists of two parts:  zoning regulations and a map.  The zoning map shows the location of the different zones and districts in town.  A specific zone indicates the general allowed use of property (such as residential), while a district sets forth the specific allowed uses, density, and bulk regulations (setbacks, building height, allowable lot coverage).  The standards for each zoning district are included in the text of the zoning ordinance.

A central purpose of the zoning ordinance is to shape land use and density patterns as a community develops.  The zoning map is based on the future land use map outlined in the Maryville Comprehensive Plan. 

This, in theory, keeps the zoning map consistent with the vision and goals established in the Maryville Comprehensive Plan.  Together, the zoning ordinance and comprehensive plan, aim to maintain or improve development patterns and enable orderly sustainable growth.

Zoning policies can be a powerful tool for communities in implementing the comprehensive plan.  For example, zoning can encourage redevelopment in run down areas of town.  Zoning can also encourage a mix of shops, offices, and residences that by design generate pedestrian traffic.  Zoning can also protect natural resources, such as water supplies or unique natural features, from encroaching or sprawling dense developments.

Just as important, zoning can also avoid incompatible land uses that can cause conflicts between neighbors or a reduced quality of life for residential areas.  For example, proper zoning would prohibit a manufacturing facility from locating within a residential neighborhood.  Zoning also ensures that infrastructure (especially water and sewer lines) is planned, designed, and installed to the correct capacities in locations where development is envisioned in the future.

Today, zoning is the most common way that local governments regulate land use.  Zoning gained popularity in the 1920s, however, the first noted instance of zoning regulations happened in 1885 when Modesto, California banned washhouses from locating in certain parts of town.

 Following that, in 1926, Euclid, Ohio played an important role in the history of zoning due to a challenge to its zoning ordinance.  The landmark Supreme Court case known as Village of Euclid, Ohio vs. Ambler Realty Co. was the first significant case regarding the relatively new practice of zoning, and served to substantially bolster zoning ordinance in towns nationwide and in other countries around the world.

The local zoning ordinance is located within the Municipal Code of Maryville and is made up of seven chapters.  Those chapters cover the zoning commission, zoning code, subdivision regulations, Board of Zoning Adjustment, flood plain management, tax increment financing, and wireless infrastructure facilities.  Within the zoning code portion, the city is divided up into the general zones of residential, commercial, and industrial land uses. 

Within each of those general zones are sub-zone categories.  For example, the residential zoning category is made up of six different types of residential zones ranging from single-family residential to a modified residential zone and the highest density residential category of multi-family residences.  The zoning ordinance also includes the overlay districts of the Campus Town Overlay, University Neighborhood Overlay, and the “Planned Districts”, which provide additional regulations or allow for creativity in achieving the desired land use.

When used consistently and in cooperation with the Maryville Comprehensive Plan, the zoning ordinance can and has been an important tool for implementing the vision of development within Maryville. A special thank you to the staff, volunteer boards and commissions, and elected officials who sift through this often complicated process to ensure proper development. 

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