Special Considerations for Rezoning Agricultural Land

Rezoning agricultural land to commercial or other uses is a complex and often contentious process that requires careful consideration of various factors, including environmental, economic, and community concerns. Here are some special considerations to keep in mind when considering such a rezoning:

  1. Land Use Planning and Zoning Regulations: The first step is to review the existing land use and zoning regulations applicable to the jurisdiction where the property is located. These regulations will dictate the zoning options and the procedural requirements for the proposed zoning change. 
  1. Comprehensive Plan: Many jurisdictions have a comprehensive plan that outlines the long-term vision for land use in the area. Oftentimes, in rural areas, the comprehensive plan and other guiding documents highlight the importance of preserving the existing agricultural uses while promoting low-density development, which can present challenges, especially for commercial and multi-family development.
  1. Infrastructure and Services: This is one of the most important factors for consideration.  If the existing infrastructure and services, such as roads, water supply, sewer, and utilities, cannot support the proposed development, you may need to make significant investments in infrastructure upgrades. A thorough understanding of the costs related to providing infrastructure and services is crucial to assessing the feasibility of your project.
  1. Environmental Impact: Assess the environmental impact of rezoning agricultural land. Consider factors like soil quality, wetlands or habitat disruption, water resources, and potential contamination. There may be areas of the site that are not suitable for development.  Also, mitigation measures may be required to minimize adverse effects. 
  1. Traffic Impact Assessment: Depending on the proposed use, a traffic impact study may be required or appropriate in order to address concerns about the impact of the development on the existing infrastructure and the surrounding area. 
  1. Community Involvement: In rural areas where there is limited development, a proposal to rezone a site can attract significant attention from the community beyond the immediate neighbors. Oftentimes, the common interest in preserving the rural character of the surrounding area motivates community members to attend public meetings to speak out against the rezoning of land for higher-intensity uses. For this reason, it’s important to take the time to highlight the potential economic benefits of the development, such as job creation, increased tax revenue, and improved services. Making a compelling case for why the rezoning is in the best interest of the community is crucial.

The process of rezoning agricultural land for higher-intensity use is complicated and can vary significantly depending on where the property is located, the local regulations and policies, as well as any unique characteristics of the land in question. Engaging early on in the due diligence process with seasoned professionals, such as design, traffic, and environmental consultants, as well as a land use and zoning attorney can help you clarify the options and strategy for reaching your goal.

If you have questions about zoning issues related to agricultural land, we’d love to hear from you! You can reach us at info@birchwood.law

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.