Among the many different factors to consider before making a commercial real estate purchase, zoning laws are one of the most important.
Land use and other zoning regulations vary from one county to another as well as from city to city. Sometimes, existing zoning can prevent owners from redeveloping a property for its best use. Without the right help, buying a property and having it re-zoned, can be a long and arduous process, so buyers should carefully consider how the property will be used before making an offer.
Zoning is just one of many land use regulations issued by a local government unit. Depending on location, one of these units establishes how certain parcels of land may be used, designating zones for specific uses, such as industrial, commercial, agricultural, or residential.
Zoning laws are put in place to protect the public in a number of ways:
Buyers need to determine whether a structure or land meets the needs of their intended use as well as the local land use laws.
Even if the property is zoned for your intended use, there may be many additional restrictions that lead to costly modifications. Zoning laws may dictate the type of buildings allowed on the land, including restrictions on outbuildings; boundary lines and building position; placement of utility lines building height; number of rooms; frontage minimums; and parking ratios.
Regulations may be placed on the type of residences erected on a property, such as single-family homes, condominiums, or townhouses. Zoning laws can also designate the maximum number of units in one acre, as well as the maximum height of residential structures. If a residential area is designated a historical neighborhood, there may be additional zoning regulations regarding the preservation, modification, and appearance of the structure.
Above and beyond governmental land use laws, developers may place restrictions on a property to prohibit certain uses. Restrictive covenants can prevent you from such actions as building additions, installing swimming pools, or changing the appearance of the house in a way that's not in keeping with the aesthetic quality of the neighborhood.
Original developers may have set up a portion of the property for public use or to prevent building on a certain parcel of land. Easements can be used to build a park on a property, protect endangered wildlife, allow access to utilities and others.
Commercial property owners must abide by environmental regulations regarding air quality and emissions, water quality, endangered species protection, wetlands and habitat conservation, and site cleanup. Use of the property require inspections, permits, hearings with federal, state and local agencies and even extensive – and expensive - remidiation.
If you want to use one parcel of land within a designated zone for another use, we can help you navigate the process of getting a variance.
Commercial buyers need to balance the costs of revitalizing a property in light of the potential costs of rezoning. We can assist an owner make a compelling case for rezoning and support you in petitioning the appropriate regulating authority to change the allowed use of the property. This typically involves paying petition fees; specifying how the property will be used; and addressing how rezoning will affect the long-term goals of the authority.
We will be with you every step of the way!