As a business owner, the first thing that you need to understand about zoning is that every zoning ordinance represents a restriction on how you use your land.
Sometimes, that’s to your benefit. Zoning ordinances define how the land can be used in a given space, and can even define things like what size buildings can be and what signs can look like. If you’re trying to preserve the quaint feel of an artsy district, for example, good zoning ordinances can be your friends.
A zoning ordinance might not feel quite so friendly nor helpful, however, if they are interfering with the operations of your existing business, your goals for expansion or the business that you’d like to open. Since zoning can control everything from the parking you have for your customers to the type of products or services you can offer, you need to be informed at every stage of your operation.
Zoning issues can be complicated, so you need help in numerous situations
In essence, you need to have legal guidance about zoning issues whenever the following situations come up:
- There’s a new zoning ordinance that would negatively affect your operations.
Sometimes zoning ordinances are passed without full consideration toward existing businesses – and you cannot make the mistake of assuming that you’ll somehow be “grandfathered” in and exempt from the new rules. You need to find out if any non-conforming uses of the property will be permitted – and how you can proactively maintain your rights.
- You’re considering investing in commercial property and need a variance.
Maybe you’ve found the perfect location for your business – but you aren’t sure that the zoning will permit your operations. Maybe you know that the zoning isn’t suitable and hope to obtain a variance that will allow you to operate anyhow. A variance is basically official permission to deviate from the normal zoning rules in an area.
Wading through local zoning ordinances can feel like making your way through a labyrinth, and it isn’t a situation where you can “buy now and make changes later.” You need experienced legal guidance to help you understand the zoning restrictions you’re facing and what it may take to obtain the variance you need before you agree to buy.
If you’re a small business owner and zoning issues have you frustrated or confused, don’t go it alone: Legal guidance can help.