A special use permit, sometimes known as a conditional use permit, is a legal document or authorization granted by a local government that allows a property owner or occupant to use a property that deviates from the standard or permitted uses outlined by the existing zoning regulations. While the zoning ordinance technically permits special uses, they require additional review for compatibility with the surrounding area. In this way, special uses drastically differ from variances which allow owners to use land in a way that is contrary to local zoning regulations.
Special use permits can unlock the value of the land. Recently, Birchwood Law helped a client obtain a unanimous vote of approval for a special use permit for a daycare so that the client could open a new location in a suburb of Illinois. Legal representation at a special use permit hearing is crucial because objecting neighbors or misinformed public officials can derail projects. Having experienced zoning counsel advocate for the project and address objections in advance significantly improves the applicant’s chances of success.
Although zoning regulations vary to a great extent depending on the jurisdiction, it’s common for the following uses to require a special use permit:
- Educational institutions
- Hotels/Extended stay lodging facilities
- Childcare facilities
- Assisted-Living Facilities for the Elderly
- Religious institutions
- Auto service stations
- Pawn Shops
- Private Clubs
- Community Centers
- Hookah Bars
A special use permit generally runs with the land, and unless the owner violates a condition resulting in termination of the special use permit, they do not expire. A special use permit may be terminated if it’s abandoned for a certain period or if there is a change in the business activity or intensity of the activity conducted under the permit.
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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 state or country.