What is the Land Zoning Process?
If you own commercial property, you know all too well that you are subject to commercial land zoning and land use regulations. Zoning is a system to classify privately owned real estate. Zoning laws are used by local governments to closely control community development now and in the future. Sometimes disputes occur between private commercial property and the local government.
Common Commercial Zoning Disputes
Typically, zoning disputes involve a commercial building that is located near a residential neighborhood. The following are the five most common zoning disputes:
The commercial business owner’s parking lot is near a residential area
Residential owners’ views are obstructed because a commercial building is too tall
Commercial signs are placed so that they clutter a neighborhood
Setback issues due to the minimum distance that a building can be located from a property line
Commercial properties that cause noise, air, and water pollution to nearby properties
Disputing a Commercial Zoning Issue
Let’s say you have purchased a piece of property and plan to build commercial property and run a business at that location. You believe you have followed all the rules and regulations, but then find out someone has filed a complaint against you with the zoning board. There could be a number of reasons for this such as neighboring businesses believing your building will be too tall or the signage will obstruct their business. The complaint could also come from an environmental group that believes your business will produce toxic waste or it could come from a local jurisdiction that has decided that the real estate is not properly zoned for your purpose.
If a zoning ordinance prohibits your specific commercial use, it may not be the end of the road. It is sometimes possible to find relief from the board of zoning adjustment or the board of appeals. Every locality is different, but the board will usually hold a public hearing to determine if it should alter the zoning laws or grant a variance. You will have the opportunity to argue your side. Members of the community will also be able to voice their opinion on the matter.
In these cases, it is wise to get support from the community before the hearing. Reaching an agreement with residents and/or residents near your property will help to fend off any additional criticism during the hearing.
If an agreement cannot be reached with the zoning board, you may be able to appeal the decision to the local zoning board of appeals. To be successful in the appeal process, the property owner should be able to show:
That the existing zoning deprives the owner of their right to use the property
That the property owner’s request for rezoning does not negatively impact the surrounding properties
That the zoning board’s actions were arbitrary and unsupported by the facts
That the legal requirements for this adverse decision were not met
Disputing a Commercial Zoning Decision can be Complex
The court typically gives heavy deference and latitude to the decisions of local zoning boards. While taking your dispute to court may not be the desirable course of action to take, it might be the best way to obtain the rights to build or operate your business on the property you’ve selected. When attending a zoning board hearing or appealing your case, it is wise to have skilled legal assistance every step of the way.
I’m Rob Robinson. I understand Florida zoning laws and I have the expertise to defend your rights with zoning boards. For 14 years, I served as legal counsel to a municipality. That experience has afforded me special knowledge and legal proficiency in the areas of local government. I will use this insight in your favor.
Please contact my office as soon as possible when facing a commercial zoning issue. I will work diligently to help you reach your goals and keep your project on track.