Many towns and cities across the United States use zoning as a way to plan development, to divide land into similar use categories, and to protect the rights of the public and of the private land owner. Often times however, the restrictions that come with zoning limit the way in which a private land owner can use their land. If the land owner wishes to use the land for a use outside of the set zoning parameters, they must make a rezoning request.
Requesting a change in zoning regulations for a property can be a very complicated process. While you can attempt the bureaucracy of a rezoning request on your own, the aid of an attorney who specializes in real estate law can save you time, money, and frustration. Below are just some of the ways that an attorney can aid you in the process:
An Attorney Will Know Who to Contact: The way that local governments handle rezoning requests is very unique and specific to the particular government you will be working with. Some municipalities have specific zoning and planning committees who oversee and hear all zoning related cases. In other places, the city or town council directly oversees rezoning requests. An attorney will not only know who handles theses requests but who they are. An attorney will be aware of previous rezoning requests and if they were successful or not. If a particular city council frequently refuses requests to rezone a residential property as a business one, for example, it may not be worth your time or money to attempt a similar request.
An Attorney will Know the System: Just as each municipality hears requests in different ways, they also each have a very specific process of how rezoning requests are approached. You often have to post a public notice, involve neighbors, and have a hearing with the zoning board. Rezoning request most often carry a fee, often in the hundreds of dollars, so it’s important that you’re serious about your request and that you go about it the right way the first time. You attorney will help you determine:
- What is your current zone and what is your ideal zone? While you may think of zoning as consisting of business, residential, and industrial zones, some cities’ zones are much more complex than this, having over thirty different types of zones. Each zone is ruled by specific guidelines for issues such as required lot frontage, signage regulations and compatibility with Future Land Use Plans. An attorney can help you figure out how to best approach the many options of zoning.
- What exactly do you want to accomplish and what type of request does that require? What you want to accomplish with your property will determine what kind of rezoning request you would need to make. You may just need to file a specific use request, or you may need to request a complete zoning change. If you are a developer who has had some new ideas, you might have to request an amendment to your zoning regulations. An attorney can help you determine what kind of rezoning request you need to file.
You might feel overwhelmed by the complications that surround rezoning requests- and that is where an attorney really proves worth the investment. Real estate law attorneys know the ins and outs of your local system and how to make sure that your request isn’t just a waste of your time and money.