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Rezoning could make that piece of property perfect

After conducting an exhaustive search for a piece of property that you believe would be the ideal location for your business, you discover that it's not zoned for your use. Do you move on and give up on that stretch of land?

Don't give up just yet. It may be possible to rezone the parcel to put the property into compliance with the land use and zoning laws of the area. Obtaining a change in the applicable zoning laws may require assistance.

Why does the government need zoning?

The goal of zoning is to make sure that how land is used does not jeopardize the health, welfare and safety of the public. Zoning sets out to accomplish the following:

  • Protect property values
  • Control nuisance impact
  • Avoid incompatible uses
  • Provide public services

When the current zoning no longer achieves one or more of these goals, it may be possible to rezone it to fit other purposes. If you can show that rezoning the parcel would make the property achieve these objectives again, you may obtain the right to use the property for your purposes.

What is rezoning?

Every parcel of land here in Massachusetts falls into one of the following general zoning types:

  • Residential
  • Industrial
  • Commercial
  • Agricultural

Each of these types may have sub-types as well. How you may use a piece of property depends on the category under which it falls. When you request to "rezone" the property, you are asking the appropriate governmental agency to allow the piece of property to fall into a different category so that you may use it as you intend.

When rezoning makes sense

Your chances of getting a piece of property rezoned for your uses increases as the needs of the surrounding community change over time. For example, a piece of land previously zoned for agriculture may no longer be used for that purpose. With the increase in residential areas near it, rezoning that property for commercial use may better serve the communities around it.

The challenges of rezoning

There is often more to obtaining a decision to rezone the property than just submitting an application, paying the fees and meeting with local authorities. You may also have to overcome one or more of the following challenges to your application:

  • Spot-zoning
  • Neighborhood opposition
  • Regulatory taking

Even if you face one or more of these challenges as you attempt to rezone the property, you do not necessarily need to give up your quest to purchase the property.

Finding the support and help you need

The prospect of rezoning a piece of property that you want to purchase can be daunting. In order to increase your chances of success, it may help to seek out the guidance and assistance of an attorney who understands the local zoning laws and the process to change them.

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