Understanding Your Rights and Zoning Laws

By on March 25, 2015

Zoning refers to the division of cities or counties by laws that indicate the uses permitted for property in these specific regions. If the land you own is not consistent with the zoning applicable for that piece of land, then you can make an application to the jurisdiction in your region to have them change the zoning. The following article seeks to outline the different ways you can change the zoning applicable to your piece of property:

The Process of Application

When applying for the zoning on your land to be changed, you are required to make a written application and pay an application fee. You will then be required to attend a hearing where you will formally state your request and why you want the proposed change. The hearing you attend will depend on the application you have made. For instance, during a request for variance, you will appear before a zoning committee. You might need to use drawings, models, photographs and even surveys to illustrate your proposed plan.


This is a formal request to go contrary to the zoning requirements applicable to your piece of land. It should not be confused to mean that it is a change of the zoning law instead it is a waiver of the provisions of the ordinance that is specific to your property.

Understanding Your Rights and Zoning Laws

Non-Conforming Use

This is the permission to use your property contrary to the prevailing zoning ordinance. You are permitted to use the land contrary to the provisions of the law because you were previously using that property for that particular use prior to the formation of the current zoning ordinance. According to Timothy G. Mara, for you to qualify for non-conforming use, your property should have been consistently used in the non-conforming manner. For instance, if you are running a business which you then close and thereafter a law against that use is brought into effect, the permission for non-conforming use cannot be granted.

Conditional Use

This is a permit similar to a variance in that, you are allowed to use your land contrary to the current zoning code. These permits are granted during a hearing conducted by a political committee. The basis for granting the permit is usually because it is in the best interest of the public.

In case you have a piece of property that you cannot utilize the way you intend to, you can exercise your right by making an application against the zoning ordinance. Just make sure you have a good attorney on your side if you are looking to contest any zoning issues.

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