Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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City of Baton Rouge looks to clarify zoning code

Land is only as good as the use to which it can be put. This is especially true in the business context. After all, commercial real estate that is too restrictive may cripple a business's operations, thereby stunting its growth and threatening its very viability. This is why business owners need to thoroughly vet all commercial real estate before taking steps toward leasing or purchasing it.

One way to do this is to ensure that its zoning is in line with the business's needs. This can be a challenging feat, though, especially given the fact that the Unified Development Code is riddled with inconsistencies. In fact, the city's Planning Commission is now taking a deeper look at the zoning code in an attempt to make it more clear and consistent.

The process isn't proving easy, as there are parts of the code that clearly contradictory. For example, one part of the code disallows the building of outdoor storing in areas that are zoned as neighborhood commercial, while another part of the code allows for up to 10,000 square feet of outdoor storage.

This lack of clarity can be maddening to those who are trying to figure out which commercial real estate will further their business interests. Far too often these individuals decide on a property only to find unexpected restrictions applied to them.

While simplification of the zoning code will be helpful, it will take time to get there. Another aspect of this issue that will be worth keeping an eye on is how these inconsistencies will be handled. The Planning Director has said that he usually prefers to err on the side of more restrictive codes, which may have a greater impact on local businesses.

Dealing with issues related to commercial real estate, whether it be closing a real estate transaction or navigating the zoning code, can be overwhelming, especially to those who simply want to focus on running and expanding their business. That is why skilled legal professionals stand ready to help.

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Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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