Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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What is a zoning variance and how can I get one?

There are different methods of addressing an unfavorable zoning ordinance and one of them may be to seek a variance. When zoning laws are concerned, it can be helpful to understand the different legal tools and options available to help property owners when zoning-related issues pop up.

A property owner may wish to apply for a zoning change when their use of the land is inconsistent with zoning laws applicable to the property. Usually a request can be made by paying a fee which will be followed by a hearing process, usually with a zoning board, where the property owner can present information related to the request for the change. Appeals options may also be available. Because the process for seeking a zoning change can vary, it is important that you are familiar with the laws in your area.

A variance is one option to make a request to deviate from the zoning laws applicable to the particular piece of property. If the variance is granted, it permits the property owner to use the property in a manner other than how it is zoned. It is not a change in the zoning law but a waiver of compliance with the zoning law. A non-conforming use may also be a method of addressing an unfavorable zoning law if the ordinance came into effect after the property had historically already been put to another use that would be nonconforming because of the new law.

Additional options, such as conditional use permits or claims of eminent domain, may also serve as solutions to zoning-related concerns and problems. Because there are a variety of legal options to address zoning-related concerns and challenges, it is helpful to be familiar with the full range of resources to consider when faced with one.

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Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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