Zoning is a term for a system of land use regulation. The word is derived from the practice of designating permitted uses of land based on mapped zones which separate one part of a community from another. Zoning regulations fall under the police power rights governments may exercise over real property. The primary purpose of zoning is to segregate incompatible uses; and in practice, zoning is used as a permitting system to keep new development from harming existing residents or businesses.
Zoning includes regulation of the kinds of activities which will be acceptable on particular lots (such as residential, commercial, industrial, open space or flood plain), the densities at which those activities can be performed, the height of buildings, the amount of space structures may occupy, the location of a building on the lot (setbacks), and how much parking must be provided.