Zoning to Preserve Your Rights

Zoning to Preserve Your Rights

According to the World Bank, zoning is a “planning control tool for regulating the built environment and creating functional real estate markets.” As such, it is essentially a means of determining how to allocate land in a way that puts it to best use—all while considering a variety of variables including developmental goals, statutory laws, and environmental impact amongst other factors. The implication of this is that you as a developer must ensure your plans and activities are in harmony with zoning laws and regulations. That way, you can be able to go about your developing plans without contravening statutory regulations. 

What can be difficult is that zoning laws are constantly changing, and so it is important to work with an architect and file your zonings as soon as possible to preserve your rights. Here are some ways filing for your zonings sooner rather than later can be beneficial: 

  • Secure Property Rights: As a developer, you are always looking for ways to maximize your investment properties to its fullest potential. Imagine investing in a property zoned in a commercial area where you plan to develop a multi-level property. And then all of a sudden you get notice that the zoning has changed to residential for single family housing. Filing your zonings before that change in the law would allow you to maintain the right to build the commercial property you were originally planning to build.
  • Maintaining Property Value: In the scenario I just shared, could you imagine how a change affects the ROI of that project. What the developers were planning to realize from such a project would be decimated. By filing your zonings once you acquire a development property you can maintain the property rights, for which you intend to develop under, for 3 years. This will give you time to secure the financing you need for the property and get everything approved, all of which will help you maintain the value of your development.

     Change is certain

Like all regulations, zoning laws are subject to amendments according to emerging issues and public interests. For instance, if the authorities and the community have a keen interest in preventing an area from becoming a commercial area due to incompatibility, zoning regulations can be amended to make that area strictly residential.

This might adversely affect your investment plans as a developer because property values are likely to drop significantly. Therefore, to avoid this, you must always review municipality zoning ordinance in advance to understand and anticipate the potential rezoning risks that may affect you.

In cases where a rezoning decision is completely unanticipated, you can always pursue legal options such as filing a petition to contest the rezoning attempt and prove that it is inconsistent with surrounding uses.  In cases where it is deemed imperative to rezone an area in the interest of the greater public good—such as to conserve the environment—always ensure that you pursue compensation as it is provided for in the law. 

For more information or if you have specific questions, please feel free to reach out at [email protected]. And you can always call at 610.207.7678.