How to Become a Zoning Board Member (Step-by-Step)

  • By: Tara Astbury
  • February 26, 2024

A zoning ordinance is a critical directive implemented by government officials to regulate land and building use within a city. 

Zoning boards are a group of appointed officials who make decisions regarding the impact zoning regulations have on the public. Depending on the municipality, zoning boards may also be referred to as “The Zoning Board of Adjustment,” or ” The Zoning Board of Appeals.” The titles are interchangeable, all having the same role, goals, and understanding of local government compliance.

What is a Zoning Board?

Municipal planning lies in the hands of zoning boards, who are in partnership with federal and state entities and also work closely with planning commissions

A zoning board, sometimes called the “zoning board of appeals,” is a regulatory part of the city council that enforces land use and real estate regulations. The goal of a zoning board is to strike a balance between each property owner’s rights and the public’s right to a safe, secure, and orderly neighborhood.

Having a zoning board regulate the use of property is important because a city’s infrastructure directly impacts its citizens. Types of land use include residential, industrial, commercial, and agricultural, and as you can imagine, some property types are incompatible with others. 

For example, zoning prevents factories with hazardous materials or other nuisances from being built on residential streets. Additionally, zoning can impact transportation, historically significant buildings, and other public infrastructures such as water and sewage lines. 

How to Become a Zoning Board Member

Consider these steps for joining a local zoning board.

1. Understand Local Requirements

Zoning board members must understand and refer to state statutes, common law, local ordinances, and other zoning regulations. 

2. Understand Zoning Board Members Roles and Responsibilities

Zoning board members are responsible for conducting meetings in a productive and efficient manner. This is made easier by leveraging meeting management software, such as eScribe, to streamline discussions and enable voting on key issues before the board. 

Additional zoning board member responsibilities include:

  • Review future development, construction, and other infrastructure plans
  • Approve, make suggestions, or disapprove of plans which will go through the city council
  • Engage with the public and encourage input on public projects
  • Hold and attend public hearings and ensure they’re properly recorded

3. Gain Relevant Experience

Zoning board members must be familiar with the community they serve and understand its history and site plans. Members must convey integrity, honesty, and transparency. In addition to holding empathic and trustworthy qualities, zoning board members should also be knowledgeable about:

  • Architecture
  • Building and site construction
  • Civil engineering
  • Comprehensive plan and land-use plan knowledge
  • Real estate
  • Development

4. Apply for the Position

Depending on the community, zoning board members are elected or appointed by the legislative body. Submit your candidacy by filling out an application, which you can typically find on your city’s website or by visiting city hall. The application will consist of questions that relate to applicable education or training, prior work or volunteer experience, and what you hope to accomplish by filling this role.

5. Attend Training and Orientation

After obtaining a position on a zoning board, there’s usually training, orientation, and additional continuing education courses you must fulfill. 

Achieve Zoning Board Mastery with eScribe

No matter the city or town, there’s always the need for new construction, developments, and changes to land use.

Zoning boards members can improve meeting effectiveness using city council management software, such as eScribe. As a powerful technology designed for local governments, the software provides a central space for zoning board members to store and easily access key information. 

It also has features that enable voting, streamline communication, and enhance collaboration for zoning board members. Top features include: 

  • Meeting Manager: Create, share, modify, and collaborate on meeting materials in real-time.  
  • Meeting Minutes: Take minutes directly within the platform and mark motions as the meeting progresses. 
  • Reporting and Workflows: Manage deadlines, track statuses, save time, and handle reports and approvals with ease.
  • Collaboration Tools: Give elected officials the freedom to work from anywhere by providing secure access for searching for and reviewing content, downloading meeting materials, and keeping track of comments, notes, and action items.

eScribe is the best software solution for zoning board members and other local government agencies. Don’t just take our word for it. Learn how the software streamlined processes for the City of Greensboro.