Zoning for Small Business

Zoning Practice — July 2016

By Arista Strungys, FAICP


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Zoning often treats commercial districts as a singular land-use category, with little or no distinction in scale or intensity. In these instances, commercial districts generally seem the same on paper, with small differences in setbacks and use permissions. One of the problems with this approach is that it can create unintentional barriers for small businesses, businesses that have positive impacts on a community that go beyond direct economic benefits.

Successful small businesses enhance community character and create an identity that is unique to the municipality. Small businesses also facilitate the adaptive reuse of existing structures. By acknowledging the place and role of small businesses in the community within development regulations, these potential benefits can come to fruition.

This issue of Zoning Practice discusses how use classifications and permissions and development standards affect small business opportunities. It summarizes key zoning considerations for a range of types of small businesses.


Page Count
Date Published
July 1, 2016
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Arista Strungys, FAICP
Arista Strungys, AICP, is a Principal at Camiros, Ltd. Her area of expertise is zoning and development regulations, and she has worked with communities across the country of all sizes in drafting development regulations. She is experienced in all types of regulatory techniques, including traditional controls, place-based zoning, form-based coding, design guidelines, and sustainable development.