Every city and county has zoning laws that define and restrict how property owners can use the land. The purpose of zoning regulations is to establish development standards and to ensure that the land is used for the common good.
There are restrictions on both the type of structures you can build and how the property can be used. Common zoning categories are residential, agricultural, industrial, commercial and recreational. There are sub-categories such as single-family residential zones and multiple family residential zones, (areas where condo and apartment complexes are permitted.)
Zoning ordinances also contain restrictions on the height and square footage of the buildings, the number of stories allowed and how close buildings can be to one another. They state what kinds of facilities are required for each form of use -- for instance, a residential property must have a driveway. Whether you intend to buy a new piece of property or improve one that you already own, zoning laws will dictate what you will be able to do with your land.