A Business Owner’s Quick Guide to Land Use and Zoning Disputes

Since the early 20th century, urban areas throughout the United States have been adopting zoning ordinances. This means they have created special laws that regulate the ways in which real estate can be used and developed. The purpose of land use and zoning laws is to divide a town, city, or even a rural area into three types of zones: residential, commercial, and industrial. This is an important part of city planning and prevents districts from becoming too jumbled. 

Beyond just dividing areas into types of districts, land use and zoning laws can provide detailed and specific regulations. They may restrict the number of rooms or the height of the buildings. They could have rules for the placement of utility lines. In areas of historic significance, they may regulate that specific features of the architecture have to be preserved. In residential developments, they may specify how far buildings must fall from property lines to prevent a crowded appearance.

It is important for business owners to be familiar with the land use and zoning laws that impact their buildings. There are a few questions every business owner needs to consider:

  • Is my business allowed in this location?
  • Do I meet parking requirements?
  • Have I posted all required signage?
  • Is my building accessible, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Still, sometimes even the most careful business owner can run into land use and zoning disputes. Zoning laws are required to be reasonable, and since this is quite subjective, disagreements do occur. Zoning disputes can lead to zoning appeals, or even litigation.  

Common zoning disputes are:

  • Residential neighbors complaining that a business’s parking lot is too close to their homes.
  • Tall buildings obstructing another building’s view.
  • Commercial signs that are too large or too close to a busy road may be considered dangerous or visually unappealing. 

Business owners can protect themselves and their businesses by making sure that they understand any potential zoning issues before they purchase real estate for commercial or industrial use. An experienced business law firm can help. An attorney’s guidance is also essential if you are already entering into a zoning dispute. At APH Law PLLC, we have extensive experience helping business owners. If you need to learn more about land use and zoning law and zoning disputes, contact us today.