Phillips & Angley

Is this the right place to set up shop? Check for zoning issues

You have decided to open your own business. Congratulations! It is undoubtedly an exciting time in your life. When looking for the right place to set up shop, you may run into a few problems, though. Zoning laws in Massachusetts limit commercial property, so finding just the right location that fits your needs may be a bit of a challenge.

Many small business owners start out by renting commercial space. It is a safe way to go until their business really take off. It also allows them freedom to move if they feel it necessary. However, depending on the type of business you are opening, some commercial spaces that are available for rent may not end up working for you due the property's current zoning. If you find the perfect spot and zoning doesn't work with your needs, you may be able to fight for a zoning change.

Purpose of zoning and land use laws

The purpose of zoning and land use laws is to give the city control over what goes where, basically. It is a way to keep the city in order and helps keeps hazards out of residential areas. It also serves as a guide for any future development.

What if the zoning board gets it wrong?

A parcel of land may be zoned for one thing, but a developer may want it for something else. Those in charge of zoning have the right to reject any changes, but it does not mean that one cannot challenge how the property is currently zoned. Sometimes the zoning board is not right.

The same can be said for an existing building zoned for one thing, but a business owner may want to use it for another purpose. It is possible to challenge the zoning board. You can do this by seeking a variance.

What if the board denies my request?

If you file a variance and it does not receive approval by the zoning board, it does not mean that you cannot keep fighting for your perfect property. It is possible to file an appeal. Zoning appeals often take place in a semi-formal setting. The zoning board will hear the testimony of experts and other witnesses before approving or denying a zoning change. You may have legal counsel at your side to present your case.

Zoning, not an easy subject to broach

A zoning issue is not an easy subject to broach. Sometimes it is easier to keep looking for a property that is already zoned for your needs, and sometimes fighting for the property you want may be worth your time. Whichever you choose, an experienced real estate attorney can help you tackle any zoning or other issues that may arise.

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