5 Key Types of Land Use

The term “land use” means what it sounds like: it’s the way you use land. On a more legal or technical note, it’s how the land is designated or zoned by the county for use. In other words, you can’t just buy a vacant piece of property in the middle of nowhere and build a shopping mall on it. It must be zoned for commercial use and have the proper city and county permits before you can build.

Plat USA specializes in vacant land. Each parcel is different and is zoned for different uses depending on the county and location. Most plats we acquire can have a structure (like a cabin or tiny home) built upon it and be used for farming, hiking, camping, ATVing, or other recreational activities. Land use varies by plot. So, be sure to check out the description of the property you’re interested in to ensure you can use it the way you intend.

Now let’s briefly review the five main types of land use so that you can determine what is right for you. 

1. Agricultural Land Use

Agricultural land allows you to produce crops or raise animals. This kind of land is often referred to as farmland or cropland. 

According to the USDA’s Census of Agriculture, approximately 40% of land in the U.S. is farmland. It’s divided into cultivatable and pasture land. Cultivatable land allows you to grow crops, such as wheat, corn, or soybeans, while pasture land is mostly for grazing animals, such as sheep, cows, and horses. 

2. Recreational Land Use

Many of our clients buy land for this purpose. It’s land specifically for camping, ATVing, hiking, hunting, fishing, riding horses, rock hounding — basically having fun. Be sure to check the specifics with the county, as recreational use can vary depending on the size or location of a plot. For example, hunting rights are often only permitted for plots of more than 3 acres.

3. Residential Land Use

Residential land is zoned for people to live on. It will typically either have a home or dwelling already built on it or have the permits to build a home. This can also include land for multi-family developments such as duplexes, apartments, or condos.

4. Commercial Land Use

Commercial land use is designated for business and economic activities. It encompasses areas used for offices, retail stores, shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, and other commercial enterprises. Most of our property is not zoned for commercial use. If this is your intent, you will need to work with the city and county to get the proper zoning and permits. Commercial land use is typically reserved for larger developers who plan to lease to multiple tenants, although smaller plots of land can work for a solo drive-thru, retail shop, or office building.

5. Industrial Land Use

Industrial land use is associated with manufacturing, processing, and production activities. These areas are typically used for factories, warehouses, power plants, refineries, and other industrial facilities.

How do you determine the land use?

Determining land use involves determining the most appropriate and beneficial use of a piece of land. Here are some of the key factors considered in the land use determination process:

  1. Zoning Regulations: Local zoning regulations and land use plans play a significant role in determining the allowable land uses for specific areas. These regulations classify land into different zones, such as residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, or mixed-use zones, and provide guidelines for permitted uses within each zone.

  2. Market Demand: Evaluating market demand helps identify the types of land uses that are viable and economically feasible. Factors such as population growth, demographics, employment opportunities, and consumer preferences are taken into account to assess the demand for residential, commercial, or industrial developments.

  3. Environmental Considerations: The environmental characteristics of the land, including topography, soil quality, natural resources, and ecological features, influence land use decisions. Environmental impact assessments are conducted to determine the potential effects of different land uses on the environment and to ensure sustainable development.

  4. Infrastructure and Utilities: The availability and capacity of infrastructure and utilities such as roads, water supply, sewage systems, electricity, and telecommunications are crucial in determining land use. The suitability of the land for accommodating the necessary infrastructure for a particular use is considered.

  5. Planning Goals and Policies: Local and regional development plans and policies provide guidance on the desired land use patterns and goals for a specific area. These plans consider factors such as urban growth, transportation networks, housing affordability, economic development, and community well-being.

  6. Stakeholder Input: Public input and engagement are essential in the land use determination process. Community feedback, concerns, and aspirations are taken into account through public consultations, community meetings, and stakeholder engagement to ensure that land use decisions align with the needs and preferences of the affected population.

By considering these factors and engaging in a comprehensive planning and decision-making process, authorities and planning agencies can determine the most suitable and sustainable land use for a particular property or area.

Can you change or designate a new land use for a piece of property?

The ability to change or designate a new land use for a piece of property is typically governed by local land use regulations and zoning ordinances. These regulations are established by municipal or regional authorities and dictate how land can be used within specific areas.

In many jurisdictions, land use changes or designations require a formal process known as rezoning or a change in zoning. This process usually involves submitting an application to the relevant planning or zoning department, paying applicable fees, and following specific procedures.

The specific requirements and processes for changing land use can vary depending on the jurisdiction. Typically, they involve considerations such as the proposed land use’s compatibility with the surrounding area, environmental impact assessments, public hearings, and community input.

It’s important to consult with the local planning or zoning department to understand the specific regulations and procedures that apply to a particular property. They can provide guidance on the feasibility of changing or designating a new land use and outline the steps involved in the process.

Compare listings