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Rural Vacant Land, Its Zoning and Land Use

Different land types lead to different uses, rural vacant land, also sometimes zoned as agricultural vacant land can be very desirable to certain people.


Every county has different types of zoning especially counties from different states, they all have individual terminology of what classes as rural vacant land. In most counties, the land size determines if it can be classed as rural vacant land or its zoning equivalent in that given county.


As with all land, not all vacant land is equal. This is specifically true in its price, appearance, and use. Take land zoned as residential, again, counties zone this under different terminology but residential rural vacant land can only be used for residential use and counties will also restrict the type of dwelling. Some counties only allow a one-story building, some don’t allow mobile homes etc, its always worth checking with the county as to what can be built on that land. Some counties have the information on their website which is easy to access, others you may have to call. Just because its classed as rural vacant land, doesn’t mean it has free reign to do as you wish.


Counties can also apply restrictions to rural vacant land. For example, it cannot be used as hunting grounds or for fishing. Some counties have specific land use codes for recreational land use which would allow ATV driving, hunting and the like, usually on parcels divided with a lot of acreage. However, this type of zoning may allow recreation use but have restrictions on permanent dwellings and only allow cabins with no water or power hook ups.


Furthermore, do not get confused with zoning and land use, some counties again have different terminology as mentioned before but it will usually be broken down into a code for its zoning and a separate code for its land use. Some smaller counties also have much fewer different classes of vacant land also. Again, best to check with the county.


Here is a specific example in Pima County Arizona, a five-acre parcel to the North West of Tucson, middle of nowhere kind of parcel:


Land Use Code – 0014 broken down into the following – 00 Vacant Land use code, 1 Residential zoned, 4 rural, non subdivided.


This tells us that, firstly its vacant land (00), secondly its zoned as residential so has restrictions for running a business or Airbnb etc (1) and finally its deemed as being rural, non subdivided (4).


Now that seems very vague and its because, it is, the reason is that the county can roll out its standard land use coding but can set separate uses to each parcel it sees fit. Remember not all land is created equally.


So therefore, you need to dig deeper on that specific parcel, again some counties have this information online others don’t (Pima County does).


So, for this parcel in question, when researching the parcel, we can see a final zoning code of (RH), this stands for Rural Homestead. Going into specifics to be a rural homestead the land has to be at least 4.13 acres, can be used for low density residential and agricultural uses, setbacks for building of 50 yards from the front and back, 20 yards from the side, mobile homes are allowed and maximum of two-story building. At the time of writing.


You can also dig deeper into the specific article from the county on this zoning to see what is allowed for example being able to keep horses for its agricultural use etc.


The point is, rural residential land has many uses and restrictions, don’t think you have a parcel in the middle of nowhere no one cares about so you can set up an Airbnb enterprise for example and the county will turn a blind eye. You might be thousands into the build, generating cash flow and find a letter on your doorstep forcing you to cease operation. Lets not even get into Home Owners Associations, if you own land in an HOA, always give them clear plans before you do anything whatsoever. Some HOA's can have more rules and regulations than others but a side from zoning you have further responsibilities to adhere to the HOA's guidelines.


Now, some counties are more relaxed, we know of people in the Airbnb business, and they call the county, and they give the go ahead over the phone. This is more so the rural counties in particular. However, some counties require assessments and review, environmental assessments, approval from different county departments and so on.


What rural vacant land gives you is space, peace and quiet, some parcels have water, electric, phone and sewer on the road, others require a perc test, septic tank and a well. With the right zoning and land use codes it can be used as a basis for the operations of a business, hunting land, ATV riding, your forever home or a cabin in the woods. Its always worth checking with the county and if in doubt, call and speak to someone in the county department.


Again, all land is not created equal, some by their nature are too rocky, or wetlands, some might have a stream running through the parcel with a large set back requirement which narrows the use of the parcel. Other parcels may have easements running through them, which also effects its use, see our other article on easements. However, zoning also plays a major part in this, one parcel may be zoned different to the parcel opposite and must be used in a different way or re-zoned.


If you have rural vacant land which has become burdensome, you are fed up of paying taxes on something you have no use for, submit our Get An Offer page and if it fits in our investment criteria we will get back to you with an offer as soon as possible. We will pay all closing costs and any back taxes, you get fast cash and problem off your hands.


All the best,


Matthew & Kathleen


The above is an opinion and is meant for information purposes only, this blog is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a licensed professional for investment advice.

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