When a business owner who is not a seasoned real estate developer tries to apply without counsel for a special use permit or a zoning variation, they are often surprised to find how challenging a seemingly simple process can be. To help those who are novices to zoning, this guide highlights some common zoning application mistakes to be avoided.
1. Not Conducting Proper Due Diligence
Thorough research should be conducted prior to purchasing commercial property or signing a long-term lease. Sometimes, a business owner relies on informal advice or representation from an agent or broker but fails to consult an attorney regarding applicable zoning regulations, title, declarations, and other restrictions. Failing to properly investigate the property may lead to costly complications later on.
2. Submitting an Incomplete Application
A zoning application, once submitted, becomes part of the zoning case record, and if your zoning approval is appealed by a neighbor (or a denial is appealed by you), it can ultimately end up before a judge as part of the court record. Make sure your application is complete and accurate to avoid unnecessary delays or challenges.
3. Discussing Irrelevant Issues at the Hearing
Have you ever noticed how it’s easier to advocate for others than it is to advocate for yourself? Even the most seasoned zoning attorney will have a hard time advocating for a zoning application for their own property. When you’re personally invested in a project, it’s easy to get sidetracked and focus on irrelevant issues instead of the legal standard that must be met.
Special Use Permits and Zoning Variations can be a sensitive topic for all stakeholders, including the applicant, government officials, members of the board/commission hearing the request, and the community. There may be differing opinions, but it’s important to keep good composure and remain respectful (even when others do not do the same).
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only. It is not considered legal advice on any subject matter. The information provided here does not create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not act upon this information without seeking advice from an attorney licensed in your own state or country.