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Can you fight city hall over a zoning issue?

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2020 | Business Law & Civil Litigation |

You found a great location that you think is perfect for your business. The rent or purchase price is within your budget, you think that it’s going to see an appropriate amount of foot traffic and the building is exactly what you had hoped to find.

There’s just one problem: The local zoning ordinances don’t match up with how you see yourself using the business. You’re simply not allowed to use the property the way you’d hoped.

So, do you just give up? Not necessarily. You can often overcome zoning issues by one or more legal means. Here’s what you can consider doing:

Ask the local government for relief

It sounds simple — but it’s probably not. There’s usually a very formal (and complicated) process involved. You can often win the right to use a property for a “lawful nonconforming use,” obtain a special permit or get a variance by pointing out that your business is providing a greater public benefit than the restriction — especially if the ordinances were put into place some time ago and the area is being newly developed or changing.

You can challenge the legality of the zoning

Maybe you happen to think that the zoning for the area is outright problematic or wrong. If the zoning doesn’t conform to the social needs and economic factors in the area, it may be in violation of local laws. Similarly, some zoning laws effectively deprive the property owner of their land or its fair use — and that may not be legal if there wasn’t due process.

Fighting a zoning issue can be difficult to do on your own. You have to know exactly the angle of approach to be successful. Consider getting experienced legal advice before you proceed.


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