Special uses are uses that may have a significant impact on the neighboring properties, and as such, they require an administrative hearing for approval. Special uses have been deemed by the local legislative body as uses consistent with the intent of the zoning district, but in need of additional safeguards.
For example, in a Residential Zoning District, schools, hospitals, and churches are usually identified as special uses. From a planning perspective, it is generally understood that these types of uses can be compatible with single-family uses although they may require special consideration prior to approval.
In an application for a special use permit, it is important to identify all of the requirements and address them all in the application. “The standards for the issuance of special permits are usually less stringent, however, than those for variances. That is because a special permit regulates a permitted use, while a variance allows a use which is proscribed by the ordinance.” 6 Rohan, Zoning and Land Use Controls 44-47, §44.04 (1978).
A special use permit generally runs with the land and unless the owner/user violates a condition resulting in termination of the permit, the permit does not expire. Usually, a special use permit may be terminated if it’s abandoned for a certain period of time or if there is a change in the business activity conducted under the permit.
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