Zoning is one method used by communities to control how land and buildings are used. Its’ purpose is to help ensure that the use of one property doesn’t interfere with the usability of another.
For instance, an area used for homes might be bothered by a nearby industrial use, if that use involves shipping materials in and out of the area, the traffic from employees, noises, smells, possibly unpleasant or hazardous fumes, or other things that are common for industrial uses. Another example might be a night club or other entertainment use that most of us would consider incompatible with an elementary school or playground.
Zoning usually defines specific uses and districts, and then specifies which uses can occur in which district. It will often spell out the distance that buildings may be placed from lot lines in each district, and sometimes regulates the height of buildings in various districts. Some zoning laws specify a minimum number of parking spaces that must be provided for specific uses, while others might control the size or number of advertising signs.
Zoning should not be confused with planning. In unincorporated areas, planning governs plats of subdivisions and lot splits. Planning also looks at land use from a "big picture" perspective. The Morrow County Regional Planning Commission's website can be accessed here: Morrow RPC.