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How do I navigate zoning issues in a development?

Whenever you are working on a real estate development project, especially in California where there are many more regulations and restrictions than other states, there is a significant likelihood that you will encounter frustrating zoning restrictions. In some cases, you may not find them until you are already in progress with the development, which can create myriad problems with your timeline for completion and keeping each aspect of the project on schedule and under budget. So, when you find your project in violation of zoning laws, what can you do?

The first and often most useful step to take is garnering the support of neighbors to the project, both private individuals and businesses. If you can drum up public support for your project, then you can more easily contend that your project should not be punished for the violation too harshly. The more support you can gather around your project from neighbors and other businesses, the more clout you have to fight the zoning issue.

Beyond this grass-roots approach, you can take some formal steps to appeal the zoning ordinance. The first step in this process is asking the appropriate authority for a conditional use permit. If this fails, you may apply for a variance to the zoning regulations. If a variance is not possible, then you may even challenge the zoning law itself in the courts.

All of these options are delicate matters that should be approached with practical, experienced legal guidance. Zoning and development law are complex and often change. To ensure the path of your development path, an attorney can help keep your project moving forward, even when obstacles arise.

Source: FindLaw, "How to Handle Problems with Commercial Zoning Laws," accessed May 10, 2017

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