Why Update the Zoning REGULATIONS?

The Town of Groton is embarking on an exciting project: the update of our Zoning Regulations. What's so exciting about zoning? It impacts everything that can happen on properties all over town.  It's what helps sustain what we all know and love about Groton, and helps change the things that need improvement. The Town wants to use this update process to make the zoning regulations easier to use and enforce, clearer to understand, and responsive to current development trends.

What are Zoning regulations?

Most cities and towns throughout the country, including Groton, use zoning regulations to regulate the use of land within their borders.  Regulation is based on the Town’s Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), which separates the community into different land use areas.  These areas are then used to develop a more detailed Zoning Map, which divides the Town into “districts” or “zones.” For example, Groton has numerous “residential zones”, “commercial zones”, and “industrial zones.” The Town’s Zoning Map can be viewed here.

Zoning regulations became common about 100 years ago, and were used primarily as a way to keep people safe. For example, many cities used zoning to ensure that residential neighborhoods were not located too close to dangerous industrial uses.  Over time, zoning has evolved to achieve many different objectives.  Groton uses its Zoning Regulations to foster neighborhood development, create economic opportunity, protect natural resources, protect historic areas, and encourage the development of vibrant mixed use centers.

How Does Zoning Impact Me?

The Zoning Regulations impact different people in different ways. In general, the regulations spell out what can be developed in each district and what permits are required.  Some other examples include:

  • Residents and Homeowners: Zoning controls how property can be used in residential zoning districts. For instance, zoning regulations may prohibit the operation of a business or the construction of an apartment building in a single-family residential zone.
  • Business Owners: Zoning determines where you can locate your business and how much parking you need. Zoning also regulates how large your sign can be and where it can be placed.
  • Developers: Zoning determines the size and shape of new development and where it can be located.For example, the number of homes that can be built within a subdivision is determined, in part, by the Zoning Regulations.
  • Design and Construction Professionals: Zoning contains rules related to landscaping, parking, lighting, and building design, as well as the size and shape of new development.