Zoning Considerations For Office and Industrial Properties
For zoning purposes, permitted uses will vary by municipality and commonly include manufacturing and warehousing, research/training facilities, transportation uses including truck and rail terminals, public works depots, contractor yards, service and repair operations, electric power facilities and automotive service establishments. In recent years, industrial areas have become more varied in terms of land use with the appearance of large-scale entertainment centres, recreational facilities, fitness clubs, fraternal organizations and large vertical market retailers. This vide diversity of uses has served to blur traditional lines separating retail/office and industrial markets. As for actual placement within a community, industrial properties are ideal grouped in planned areas to minimize impact on adjacent uses. Buffer zones are frequently utilized. For example, a residential zone would buffer the agricultural zone from the commercial, which in turn buffers the residential zone from light industry and light industry services to separate the more severe impact of heady industry. Light industry is normally classified as warehouses and non-offensive manufacturing operation. Heavy industry would cover such operations as machine works and automotive, steel and chemical plants. Zoning Provisions Industrial zoning provisions vary somewhat by municipality, but such activity is generally grouped in terms of general and heavy industrial uses. Each category (often identified as M1, M2 and so forth) provides specific permitted uses, lot frontages, lot areas and minimum front, side and rear yards. Industrial zones often set out provisions for limited retail actively involving products manufactured or assembled on the premises by way of a factory sales outlet. However, such a provision would typically require that the area of the outlet cannot exceed a specific percentage of total floor area. Also, industrial zoning provisions provide for office floor area to accommodate administrative staff and in-house professional or technical staff either within the manufacturing facility of in a separate building on the same lot. As an overall guide, general industrial would normally include activities relating to the manufacturing, fabrication, assembling, processing and packaging of products including stamping, treating, finishing, refining, distilling, and warehousing of such products. A broad array of uses fall under general industrial including mechanical and electrical contractors, computer data services, telecommunications and advanced technological equipment manufacturing and processing, repair shops, lumber yards, printing, laboratories, etc. Heavy industrial involves more intense manufacturing or processing activities such as refineries (e.g., metals and petroleum products), brick, tile or clay production, blending tar or petroleum for roofing, paving or related work activities, tanneries, rendering plants, heavy equipment manufacturing, abattoir/meat packing and bulk storage of chemicals, fuel oils or other petroleum –based products. Industrial Parks An industrial park is a controlled development designed and zoned to accommodate specific types of industry and to provide such things as public utilities, streets, railroad sidings and water/sewage facilities. Industrial parks (sometimes referred to as industrial park districts) are intended to provide areas for industrial development that do n detract from adjacent residential areas or other uses. Regulations impacting industrial parks include compliance with performance standards relating to noise, vibration, odorous, toxic and noxious matter, radiation hazard, fire and explosive hazard, glare and heat. An industrial park may serve as a buffer between heavy industrial activities and business or residential districts. An industrial park requires comprehensive planning to ensure adequate roads, proper land use and site coverage, lot sized and minimum acceptable architectural and landscaping requirements. Industrial parks frequently require detailed site plans for all construction and strictly enforce building requirements through deed restrictions. A well-planned industrial park should properly integrate with the remainder of the community by using buffers and restrictions/requirements concerning the preservation of open lands. It should also ensure that consistency is maintained within the development in the interest of protecting the stakeholders, be they the developer and tenants or individual owners. Municipalities typically require site plan control agreements in relation to individual properties within an industrial park. The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors has identified various elements of essential to a well-planned industrial park including: comprehensive planning, compatibility around industrial operations in the park, consistency between the industrial park and existing activities/character of the community, design controls, openness and park-like setting, harmonious integration into the neighbourhood, zoning to protect surrounding areas and a continuing responsibility of park management to preserve compatibility. Single-Use vs. Multi-Use Traditionally, industrial buildings represented standalone structures on individual parcels of land. The single-use properties remain a popular option, but industrial areas are increasingly dominated by larger multi-use buildings built by developers/investors to attract leasehold tenants. The tenant can then decide on total area to be leased, with internal wall construction and finishing completed following lease negotiations. New creative approaches have appeared for multi-use buildings. And industrial mall, for example, can involve a single group of buildings owned individually or divided into units for separate occupancy and uses. Industrial malls are often established as condominiums with individual units, common parking facilities with separate (or common) loading facilities and other common services. Industrial malls have gained widespread popularity over the past decade. Another variation involved vacant land industrial mall condominiums. Developers are able to register vacant land as a condominium. As a condominium corporation, the property can be divided into parcels and marketed to individuals without the need for the traditional approach involving subdivision development. Each parcel owner is then responsible for the proportionate share of building and maintaining common areas, roads and services. Municipalities generally favour this approach as well, given the fact that servicing costs and ongoing maintenance are the ownerS’ responsibility.