Zoning laws can be the bane of both residential homeowners and commercial property owners alike. Whether you want to build an additional structure on your lot or are looking to expand the footprint of your business, you’re likely to run into some type of friction with the zoning laws in your neighborhood.
Although zoning ordinances can lead to no small amount of frustration, they aren’t entirely inflexible. There may be some administrative remedies available to enable you to use your property as you see fit.
Zoning laws can change over time. What doesn’t change are structures that have existed for decades. A non-conforming use allows for a property to function as it is even if it doesn’t comply with current zoning ordinances. For example, an older structure may not possess the minimum required floor space that newer structures must have. A non-conforming use would allow the older structure to maintain its original footprint.
Conditional use permit
This is a variant of a non-conforming use. A property owner may use their property in a way that doesn’t comply with current zoning ordinances, although there are restrictions. For example, if a homeowner wanted to open a business on the main floor of a home, they would likely require a conditional use permit in an area zoned for residential use.
A variance is essentially an exception to current zoning ordinances. For example, if a neighborhood has height restrictions and a property owner wishes to build a structure higher than what is allowed by the zoning laws, they will need to seek a variance.
Petition to change
When a person or developer seeks a wholesale change to current zoning laws, they will pursue a petition to change. For example, a developer may want to have an area rezoned from low-density to high-density in order to build a multi-unit apartment building. These issues have often been in the news as of late as people seek to challenge what they consider to be Connecticut’s exclusionary zoning laws.
Ensure your plans have proper approval before moving forward
If you intend to make any changes to your property, it’s important to ensure that you comply with all local zoning ordinances. A skilled legal professional can help guide you through this process and help you seek administrative remedies when necessary.