On behalf of Michael Brooks of Law Offices of Michael A. Brooks posted in land use & zoning restrictions on Friday, March 9, 2018.

Finding just the right property for your business needs can be exceptionally frustrating.

You can find the perfect piece of land or building — but if the zoning restrictions are wrong, you can’t make use of it. And those perfect places can be few and far apart.

If you can’t find a new perfect place, it may be possible to negotiate with your local jurisdiction to change things to your liking. You essentially have three options:

1. Ask for the property to be rezoned.

A rezoning request usually applies to just an individual piece of property, although it can involve larger tracts of land as well. Rezoning requires a jurisdiction to redefine the limits on a property’s use. For example, an agricultural tract could be rezoned for industrial use to accommodate a factory outside of the city limits. Or, a small area of undeveloped residential land might be rezoned into commercial use to accommodate a much-needed grocery.

2. You can ask for a conditional use permit.

These permits are issued by the jurisdiction involved. Anyone applying for one must meet whatever conditions are imposed on a business in order to operate on that spot. The permission, once granted, usually continues as long as the conditions of the permit are met.

Cities often allow these when they recognize the usefulness of a business but also see a potential problem. For example, a historic bed-and-breakfast might be useful to bring in tourists, but the guests could create problems for residents in the area if they park all over the streets. The bed-and-breakfast might be required to maintain a parking deck for guests.

3. You can try to get a variance.

Variances aren’t always available. When they are, they often are used in place of conditional permits.

Sometimes a variance is also given to reduce an unusual burden on a property owner who is unable to enjoy the full use of the property because of some irregular feature it involves. However, incoming businesses are usually aware of a property’s limitations before they purchase it, which could prevent them from getting a variance later.

Source:, “Rezoning, Variance, or Conditional Use Permit: Which One Can Solve Your Zoning Problem,” accessed March 09, 2018

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