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Zoning changes and commercial real estate

Before you purchase a piece of commercial real estate, you need to determine what you're going to do with the property and make sure that the property is zoned appropriately to serve its intended function. In fact, it's not unheard of for a commercial property investor to buy a building, but later find out that he or she can't use it due to improper zoning.

In cases where zoning prevents landowner use of properties in the intended way, the landowner might be able to successfully apply for a zoning change. The process of applying for a zoning change usually has several steps.

First, the landowner will need to submit his or her application with the appropriate fee. Then, there will be a hearing where the owner can make his or her case to change the zoning. During the hearing, the owner will need to submit photographs, plans, surveys and drawings to illustrate how the land will be used and why it should be permissible to use it that way.

An engineer and legal counselor could be invaluable during the process of applying for the zoning change. The engineer will know how to draft plans and take pictures to illustrate why it should be permissible to use the land in the proposed way. The legal counselor will guide the process to ensure it conforms with applicable laws and regulations.

There's no guarantee of success when it comes to asking for zoning changes. However, even if the application is denied, applicants may have the ability to appeal the decision.

Source: Findlaw, "Zoning Changes, Variances, and More," accessed June 15, 2018

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