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How to Change a Zoning Designation When Your Proposed Use is not Permitted

Written by Daniel P. Dalton on May 18, 2015 Category: Land Use and Zoning

Zoning, by its very nature, involves separating different types of uses of land. Most communities separate the uses of land by grouping residential uses in residential districts; commercial uses in commercial districts and industrial uses in industrial districts. And within each zoning district, the community has uses that are “permitted” and uses that are “conditional uses.” If a use is permitted, then no further administrative action is needed to establish the zoning in your district.

For example, if you want to open a dental office in a commercial zoning district, and the local community zoning code allows dental offices as a permitted use as of right, you would not need to seek any other zoning approval. The use is a permitted use. Likewise, if you want to open a restaurant in a residential area and the is allowed as a “conditional use,” you would need to seek approval by the local planning board to open up the restaurant by demonstrating through a list of factors, set forth in the zoning code, demonstrating how your proposed use as a restaurant is a valuable asset to the community.

So what happens when your proposed use of land is neither a permitted use nor a conditional use?

There are three things a landowner can do. First, you can petition the City Council or Township Board for a zoning code text amendment. Second, you can request the Plan Commission to recommend to the City to change the Master Plan, also know as the Community Plan, of the zoning designation of the land you intend to use. Third, you can try to persuade the zoning officer to interpret the existing permitted uses to include your proposed use and if he or she does not agree with you, appeal the interpretation to the Zoning Board of Appeals or Adjustment.

The professionals at Dalton & Tomich PLC can assist you with this process as each City has its own unique process for change in a zoning district. Call or email us today to assist you with the zoning and land use process.

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