A Client-Focused Approach to Business and Real Estate Law

What can I do about unfavorable zoning?

There are different ways to handle a zoning regulation that is burdensome or unfavorable for the property owner. Property owners and those considering the purchase of a property should be familiar with what zoning laws are and what they may be able to do to address them when needed.

What are zoning laws?

Zoning laws are regulations used by municipalities and government to control growth and development. Typically, an area may be zoned for a particular purpose or use or may be zoned as mixed-use in some circumstances. Zoning regulations can also apply to structures and other elements of how the property is used.

Options for dealing with an unfavorable zoning law

In addition to non-conforming use and variance options, other options may also be available to property owners to help with a burdensome zoning regulation.

  • Non-conforming use exception: if a zoning regulation is passed after property is already in use for a certain purpose, the property owner may be able to successfully argue to continue with the lawful nonconforming use of the property or to maintain the continuing use of the property for that purpose. The public benefit of the zoning regulation may be weighed against the potential detriment for the property owner in determining if a continuing use exception will be granted.
  • Variance: the property owner may wish to pursue a variance. The variance may address the use of the property or the structures permitted on the property. The property owner is typically required to show they will suffer an undue hardship if the variance is not granted. In addition, it may be necessary to demonstrate that the variance is not detrimental to the public interest.

Real estate law legal resources are worthwhile for property owners to be familiar with. They can help them with zoning and other concerns property owners face so they can continue to enjoy their property and preserve its value.