Most municipalities have some level of zoning and land use laws. These were created to foster organized growth in a community, ensuring that warehouses with truck traffic are located in the middle of a bedroom community. Grouping similar types of buildings in a specific area can also help with designing and maintaining infrastructure.
However, the needs and goals of a community typically change over time. It could be a gas station or corner grocery now finds itself in an area zoned for single-family homes, or it could be converting an old industrial site or warehouse into residential spaces. Perhaps a developer or construction company wants to develop a new mixed-use project, but the neighborhood has strict guidelines on new development. In instances like this, it maybe is necessary to apply for a special exception or variance.
When are they allowed?
Those seeking a variance or exception will need to establish the element of hardship involved. Typical examples include:
- The owner or developer’s land has a logistical or physical challenge that makes it hard to meet typical guidelines.
- The variance would not fundamentally change the location’s character.
- The property will provide a reasonable profit with the variance.
- The developer or owner faces extraordinary conditions.
- The land was developed before there were regulations that oppose the property’s use or design.
- The community’s needs or goals shifted.
These are complex issues
There is always a lot of red tape when private businesses deal with municipal authorities, which can quickly lead to complex disputes that land in court. Those with questions about a stalled building project or real estate issue often find it helpful to work with an attorney who handles real estate-based litigation. These legal professionals understand both the regulations and the economics involved and can work with clients to resolve these legal matters.