The novel coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on almost every facet of life. We have changed how we shop for groceries, how we gather together with loved ones and even how we work. These changes have also led to rescheduled and postponed meetings. Although many areas of life are flexible and are adapting as best they can, others are not. One example: certain zoning issues.

How does the coronavirus pandemic impact zoning issues?

COVID-19 has likely led to a delay in meetings for those who currently have applications filed with zoning commissions. These applications often require meetings and negotiations, two things that may have been postponed as a result of the virus. A failure to have these meetings within a certain time frame could result in a violation of the terms of the applications.

What does this mean for the applicant?

Case law may allow for a unilateral extension. Two previous cases, Frito-Lay v. Planning & Zoning Commission and Cammarota v. Commission, question whether the law allows such an extension. Both cases question the impact of an extension and provide some guidance. Of course, lawmakers could also make a new law that would provide additional clarity. At this time, the former may be risky to navigate and the latter does not seem likely.

As such, it may be more reasonable for an applicant to withdraw their application and reapply at a later date. Of course, there are some exceptions where this third option is not viable. As a result, it is wise for those who find themselves in this legal conundrum to reach out to legal counsel experienced in this niche area of land use law for guidance.