Zoning is essentially the regulation of land use by the government for planning purposes, among others. Zoning laws can come into conflict with the interests of a property owner or developer and are an important aspect of commercial real estate and real estate law to understand.
It is not only helpful to understand zoning laws but also to understand what a property owner or developer can do when facing an unfavorable zoning regulation. Understanding what options may be available can be helpful for property owners and developers alike. If a zoning ordinance has been passed and the property has been used in a certain way, a continuing existing use or lawful nonconforming use may be allowed.
Another option when a property owner or developer is facing an unfavorable zoning law is to request a variance. A variance may be requested for the use of the land or for the structures that are permitted on the land. To successfully obtain a variance, the property owner or developer requesting the variance must demonstrate an undue hardship caused by the zoning law. There are also options available to challenge the zoning ordinance entirely, including that it is an unconstitutional taking or that the zoning ordinance does not meet with the master plan outlined in the community.
Zoning laws are complex and technical so having guidance throughout the process of challenging a zoning requirement and determining what to do when suffering the negative impacts of a zoning regulation is useful. Different options are available to help property owners and developers and they should be familiar with what those are.