Land Use & Zoning Law

Using Real Estate Variances for Property Flexibility

In real estate, variances can hold the key to unlocking unique possibilities for property owners and developers. Whether you’re seeking to adapt your piece of property to suit your needs or navigating local regulations, understanding zoning variances is essential. Seek the help of a real estate attorney to ease the way to zoning variances. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of variances and

What Is a Variance?

Local zoning ordinances govern land use, ensuring that properties follow a set of rules. Variances allow property owners to bypass current laws and regulations when unique circumstances warrant flexibility.

Types of Variances

There are two types of zoning variance:

  • Area variance: An area variance allows property owners to deviate from dimensional requirements, such as building constraints.
  • Use variance: A use variance allows property owners to use their land for something that local zoning ordinances bar.

Possible Reasons for Variances

When property owners face practical difficulties due to current zoning regulations, they seek variances. Common scenarios that may warrant a zoning variance include:

  • Physical constraints: Your property might have unique physical characteristics that make strict zoning requirements impractical. This could be an unusual lot shape or size.
  • Exceptional topography: If your property is on steep slopes or features challenging terrain, a variance could allow changes to the zoning code to consider these issues.
  • Historical or architectural considerations: For properties with historical significance or unique architectural features, you might seek a variance to preserve these qualities while following modern rules.
  • Economic hardship: If zoning codes cause severe financial burdens, such as preventing reasonable use of the property, a variance could provide relief.

How Do You Get a Variance?

Getting a variance requires careful preparation and engagement with local authorities.

  • Research and application: Research local zoning regulations and zoning ordinances. This will help you understand the specific rules and restrictions that apply to your property. Then, submit a formal zoning variance application to your local zoning board or planning department.
  • Public hearing: The zoning board or planning commission will typically schedule once it gets your application. During the hearing, you will present your case, giving the reasons for seeking a zoning variance. You should also show your variance aligns with broader community interests.
  • Notification: Before the hearing, the zoning board will notify nearby property owners and stakeholders about your variance request. This gives them a chance to express their views on your proposed variance.
  • Board decision: The zoning board or planning commission of whatever city council or municipal entity is responsible reviews your application and considers public input. It will then make a decision to grant or deny the variance.
  • Conditions and restrictions: Approval of your variance may come with certain conditions or restrictions. These ensure that the exception is reasonable and does not compromise community interests, public interests, or adjacent property rights.

How Do You Fight a Variance?

While variances can give property owners flexibility, they can also raise concerns among neighbors and communities. If you believe that a proposed variance could have negative effects on your property, you can challenge it, but keep the following things in mind:

  • Engage with the community: Voice your concerns by attending public hearings and expressing your viewpoints. Engaging with your neighbors and local community can help build support for your position.
  • Gather evidence: Evidence that the variance could harm the community or property values can strengthen your case against the zoning variance.
  • Legal representation: Consider hiring an attorney with experience in zoning and land-use issues. An attorney can guide you through the legal process, help you present your case effectively, and protect your rights.

How Does an Attorney Help?

An attorney plays a pivotal role in seeking and challenging variances. They offer expertise and guidance that can make a big difference in the outcome.

  • Application preparation: When seeking a variance, an attorney can help prepare a compelling application highlighting the reasons for the variation.
  • Public hearing representation: If your variance request goes to a public hearing, an attorney can represent you. They can present your case and address issues raised by community members or local authorities.
  • Evidence and documentation: An attorney can gather relevant evidence, expert opinions, and documentation that support your position, whether you are seeking or challenging a variance.
  • Legal strategy: If you decide to challenge a variance, an attorney can devise a legal strategy. This ensures your arguments are well-structured and backed by solid legal principles.
  • Negotiations: In some cases, negotiations with the property owner seeking the variance may be possible. An attorney can manage these discussions and help you reach a compromise that addresses your concerns.

Get Help From an Attorney on Variances

Variances in real estate offer a way to navigate the web of zoning regulations while considering your unique issues. Whether you are seeking a variance to adapt your piece of property in a residential district of single-family homes, rezoning a large piece of former farmland and surrounding area, or challenging one to protect your community’s interests, getting an attorney’s guidance is invaluable. They will protect your rights and amplify your voice.

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