Overview of Zoning & Other Related Matters

Posted by | December 09, 2014 | Litigation, Real Estate | No Comments


Zoning is the process by which local governments determine the acceptable uses for given pieces of property. General zoning ordinances may be issued for specific property types or regions; for example, one part of a city may allow for commercial and industrial developments, while another allows only for residential developments, and a third may allow for mixed-use.
Though each zoning matter is highly specific to the client and property, generally, zoning issues will fall into one of the following categories:

Non-Conforming Properties

A property is non-conforming when a new zoning ordinance comes into effect and the property no longer meets the local zoning requirements. This may occur when either the current property type or current property use is disallowed by the new ordinance. Generally, an owner may continue to use the land in the same manner as before without going through rezoning. However, if the owner subsequently wants to sell the property or change its use, zoning issues may become complicated and have a negative impact on the transaction. Neek Law Firm can help to resolve “non-conforming” zoning issues to make the rezoning process as pain-free as possible, whether it be due to a sale, change of use, or otherwise.
Conditional Uses

A zoning ordinance may allow for a specific property type in a given region, so long as certain conditions are met in relation to that property (such as a required number of parking spots, certain landscaping, offering some sort of environmental improvement to the area, etc.) When such a condition exists, we file a conditional use application with the relevant government body in order to certify the condition(s) is met, and subsequently help combat any issues if the condition is not met.

Also known as a “special use permit,” a variance is required when there is some specific and adequate reason why the current zoning ordinance should not be applied to a given property. Generally, a special use permit will be granted where the only alternative is to leave the land unused. Thus, for particularly small or strangely shaped lots, zoning ordinances may be lifted or altered so that a viable structure can be built. Other instances requiring variances also exist, though the less a party truly needs the variance, the more difficult the approval process. Neek Law Firm can assist in preparing an application for a variance, taking special care to meet the client’s specific goals. We then represent the client throughout the review process to maximize the application’s likelihood of being approved as intended.