Phillips & Angley

Is it ever possible to vary from designated zoning restrictions?

As a small business owner in Massachusetts, you understand the specific challenges that can come with finding an appropriate place for your company. It can be expensive and stressful to locate a property that will work for your growing business, but there are issues that can stand between you and your goal of leasing or purchasing the space. 

Zoning restrictions can determine how occupants can use certain spaces. For example, some buildings are only for commercial use, not for residential purposes. Using a space in a way that varies from its designated zoning can lead to legal complications. However, it may be possible to seek a variance in order to start using or continue to use a building for your specific or unique business needs.

What you need to know about zoning 

The intent of zoning is to allow specific areas to grow in ways that will allow for the benefit of those who live and work in the area. In some cases, however, a business may find it beneficial to seek a variance. This would give the company legal permission to use a space in a way that differs from its current or new zoning. If you think it could be beneficial to seek a variance, consider the following:

  • If a property was traditionally used in a way that differs from its current zoning or new zoning restrictions, it may be possible for the owner to continue to use the property in the same manner.
  • A property owner can request a variance that states the owner would suffer undue hardship in order to abide by current zoning restrictions.
  • It may be possible to seek a variance that pertains to how the land is used, while other variances pertain to how a structure on a specific piece of land is used. 

Zoning laws are complex, and it can be difficult to navigate these matters on your own. It may be beneficial for you to seek help when addressing this specific type of real estate concern. 

Protecting the interests of your business

Before you purchase a piece of land or sign a lease, it is prudent to be certain you fully understand the implications of any zoning restrictions. Additionally, it is beneficial to take quick action after new or proposed zoning changes as they could impact how you do business. It is in the interests of your long-term success to address these matters quickly and effectively.

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