Downzoning is a change in the zoning laws of a particular area that restricts the types of uses or development that can take place on a piece of property.
When an area or a piece of land is downzoned, it is actually changed to a less intense use category from a more intense use category. Downzoning is used to prevent overdevelopment or to protect the character of a neighborhood.
For example, if a residential area is downzoned, it may be changed from a mixed-use area to a strictly residential area, which would prevent businesses from being built there. Another example might be downzoning agricultural land to prevent it from being developed into a residential area.
This change usually results in a decrease in the maximum allowable density or intensity of development on the land.
The primary purpose of downzoning is to protect the character of an area by limiting the types and intensities of development that can take place. Downzoning can also be used to protect environmental resources, such as agricultural land or sensitive ecological areas.
In some cases, downzoning may be implemented in order to bring a development project into compliance with existing zoning regulations.
Downzoning is a controversial land use planning tool, as it can decrease the value of land and limit the options of landowners.
It is often opposed by developers and property owners, who may challenge downzoning decisions in court.