If your business is different from the specified zoning use of a particular area, you may require a zoning variance. In these kinds of cases, a variance will be necessary regardless of whether you want to buy, lease, or build.
You may want to, say, run a construction business in an area zoned for retail outlets. To do this, you may need to contact the local zoning or planning board to request an exception (variance) to the current zoning type prior to proceeding to open your business.
A variance refers to a zoning restriction that allows the land to be used for purposes other than the stipulations of the zoning for that area. A locality may give variances for enterprises that present valid reasons for requiring the variance and those that can demonstrate that the variance will not reduce property values or cause interference with the use of the property by local residents.
Sometimes you may have to present your case before the municipal government or city council.
Zoning Permits and Variances
A zoning permit allows a property to be used for something other than the designated use by the property’s zoning, as long as the enterprise does not negatively impact the neighborhood. It is similar to a zoning variance. A zoning permit or variance may be necessary for various situations that may alter the zoning classification of the property as follows:
- If you are involved in the construction or modification of a building that may alter its classification
- If you desire to change the use of an existing building to another zoning classification
- If you want to construct on vacant land
- If you want to alter the use of land to another zoning type
- If you want to bring about any change in a non-conforming use, i.e., changing the zoning requirements of a building that had earlier been “grandfathered” from following the current zoning requirements
A skilled commercial real estate lawyer can take you through the process of acquiring a zoning permit or variance. Before you can commence construction or use the edifice for business purposes, you must obtain a permit or variance from the zoning or planning board.
To start a home-based business in a residential area, an entrepreneur may have to obtain a zoning variance, depending on the kind of home business that they plan to run. They may also need to acquire the permission of neighbors prior to commencing their home-based business.
For instance, a couple has a lovely Victorian home where they want to start bed and breakfast. They have guests coming to their residence but restrict it to one booking at a time. In this case, they will need to apply to the city to acquire a variance as the zoning of the property is residential.
In addition, they must get the permission of their neighbors to run this hospitality operation. Finally, they will need to submit the permissions to the city zoning board and seek approval.
In your town or city, the process may be different. Therefore, it is a good idea to check with your locality and inform them that you intend to operate a home business and abide by the regulations. Obtaining a variance can be expensive and time-consuming. More often than not, variances are denied. Ensure that you will be able to get the variance that you need before signing a lease agreement or sales contract on a business location.
Conditional Use Permits
Conditional use permits are similar to variances in that they allow a different use for the property than the zoning code allows. These permits are typically granted at a public hearing in front of a political body, often with the understanding that the property’s new use will be beneficial to the public.
The power of the government to take over private property for public use is known as eminent domain. Traditional government endeavors of building public facilities and roads are examples of public use.
In cases where the government zones a part of a property such that the owner is unable to use the piece of land effectively anymore, eminent domain may apply. The property owner may be able to claim compensation as the government has acquired the land.
Consult an Experienced Real Estate Attorney for Zoning Changes and Variances
Zoning changes and variances can either open up unforeseen opportunities for using your property or have disastrous consequences. It is best to consult a legal expert before attempting to address these issues on your own.
The seasoned real estate attorneys at the law offices of Davis, Bingham, Hudson, Bucker, P.C. have a detailed understanding of the complex laws surrounding zoning changes and variances and can guide you on the steps necessary for obtaining a change in property-use for your specific case. For an in-depth case review with a skilled real estate attorney, call today at (334) 821-1908.