Zoning refers to a set of regulations guiding land use and site development requirements. Zoning is adopted by cities and counties throughout Montana and the U.S. to help communities implement their stated goals and aspirations.
Zoning regulations can vary in the criteria and tools used to regulate existing and new development. Most of Billings' existing zoning code is Euclidean zoning. Euclidean zoning takes its name from the town of Euclid, Ohio, where use-based zoning was first adopted in the early 20th century.
Some zoning regulations adopt the form of the built environment as the organizing principle, instead of the use. Form-based zoning focuses on the physical characteristics of structures, taking into account the building's size, shape, design, and relationship with the street and nearby buildings. A form-based regulation can mitigate or, in some cases, diminish use as a basis for a zoning district. Billings’ East Billings Urban Renewal District (EBURD) operates under a form-based zoning code. EBURD's form-based code encourages proper urban development for new and restored developments, with the intent of gradually creating a mixed-use neighborhood capable of providing for residents seeking a place to live, work, and enjoy leisure activities. The EBURD has 5 zoning districts that allow some--but not all--types of building forms. The code also includes a short table of allowed/disallowed uses in each district.
A community's zoning can dramatically influence the way in which a city grows, adapts, and improves. Proper zoning can create conditions that make a neighborhood more livable, walkable, attractive, and safe; improper zoning can have the opposite effect.