If you’re looking for a piece of commercial property – whether to start a business, expand your existing business or lease to someone else — it’s essential to understand the local commercial zoning laws.
Local governments take their zoning laws very seriously, as they want to protect the safety and health of the people in the community as well as the property values and community atmosphere.
What kind of things do commercial zoning laws regulate?
Commercial zoning laws regulate what kind of businesses can operate in a specific area. They may also regulate things like:
- The maximum height of buildings
- How far buildings have to be from the street
- How close buildings can be to each other
- How much noise a property is allowed to generate
- The number of parking spaces
- The type, size and style of any signage
Areas zoned for commercial use allow businesses like professional offices and retail stores. They typically won’t allow businesses that engage in manufacturing or other activities that could have an impact on surrounding people and structures.
Some zones are considered “single-use.” For example, an area may be zoned solely for residential properties – either single-family or multi-family structures. Others may be “multi-use” zones that allow a mix of certain businesses and residential properties. You may find areas that allow homes as well as offices. Sometimes a doctor or attorney, for example, will set up shop in what used to be a stately, private home.
How can a variance help your plans?
Before you invest in a property for your business to lease for business use, it’s essential to know the applicable zoning laws. Even if a particular business was being run out of the building, that doesn’t necessarily mean that another one of the same type can do so. The owners might have obtained a variance – a permit that allows the property to be used in a way that doesn’t comply with the usual zoning restrictions. Variances aren’t transferrable
Running afoul of zoning regulations can cost you in time and money – not to mention in reputation and goodwill from others in the area. If you have questions or concerns or are facing allegations of non-compliance, it’s wise to consult with an experienced real estate attorney.