Obtaining an exemption from local zoning rules is a process with which many businesses and real estate developers are familiar. When it is necessary for a business or real estate developer to obtain an exemption from zoning rules in order to move forward with a project, it is important to have proper guidance about the process, as well as strong advocacy and support. A recent trial out in Sunnyvale is a reminder of this.
The trial involved a dispute over whether a charter school was exempt from local zoning requirements. Back in 2013, the charter school applied for a zoning change, only to withdraw the application four months later. Shortly thereafter, the school opened in a neighborhood zoned for industrial business which doesn’t allow child care establishments or schools.
The school argued at trial that, because it was a charter, it was considered a “school district” under applicable law, which allows for exemption from zoning rules. The school’s attorney made the case that the city’s zoning school discriminates against charter school since there are no sites available which are zoned appropriately, pointing to the fact that there were only two charter schools in the entire city. No decision has been made in the case yet, and it will be interesting to see what way the court goes on the issue of exemption from zoning rules.
In Orange County, there are different types of exemptions one can seek. These include variances and various types of special exceptions. In considering variances and special exceptions, various criteria are considered when determining whether the request will be granted. In our next post, we’ll look a bit more at this issue and why it is important to work with an experienced attorney.