Phillips & Angley

What you need to know about zoning changes

If you purchase a piece of land, a building or other type of property in Massachusetts, the way that you use the property must adhere to its current zoning designation. Zoning restrictions are what prevent builders from putting a convenience store in the middle of a neighborhood and other similar situations. The intent is to protect the integrity and appropriate use of the surrounding buildings, property and area at large.

However, you may purchase a piece of property that does not currently have a designation that meets your needs or intentions. In some cases, you may be able to walk through the appropriate course of action to secure a change in zoning.

Seeking zoning changes

Seeking zoning changes largely depends on the area in which your property sits and requirements set by local jurisdictions. The process of seeking zoning changes and special permits can be complicated, but it can be useful to have an understanding of the following terms:

  • Variance: This is a request that you will file as a property owner to receive permission to deviate from the land's original zoning. In order to get approval of your variance, you must be able to demonstrate that the existing zoning requirements make it difficult to use the property.
  • Conditional use permit: This permit allows you as the owner to use your property in a way that is otherwise in violation of zoning ordinances. You can seek this permission with a public hearing before a ruling body.
  • Non-conforming use: This is permission to use property in a way that otherwise would be in violation of existing zoning requirements. It may be possible to secure this permission if you were already using the property before zoning ordinances changed.

Zoning restrictions are complicated and may impact your ability to use your property as you hope and intend. However, there may be a way around your current challenge. You may find it beneficial to reach out for experienced guidance when facing issues involving zoning and land use restrictions.

Fighting for a positive outcome

Whatever your objective may be for your property, whether you wish to use as residential or commercial, you have the right to seek a positive outcome to your current challenge. As a property owner, you may explore all of the options available to you regarding potential zoning changes or special permission to deviate from the current designation. You may begin the process of safeguarding your interests and fighting for your rights by reaching out for help as soon as possible.

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