Zoning Permitting Issues

Land use decision making is not always something you should do on your own. You may want to hire an attorney who specializes in land use or zoning restrictions who can help you determine a plan for your goals. Our team at Rak Law have experience in local planning and zoning and can help you map out the best plan of action.

Before starting a business, you may need proper licensing, permits and regulations. It is important to know and understand your local zoning and land use laws in the area where you are considering opening your business. Failing to comply with land use laws can be costly and include the payment of fines.

If you are thinking about entering any real estate transaction, whether as a buyer or seller, you may need to plan for zoning laws. Our team at Rak Law Firm can help you understand the laws at play and help you navigate your new business venture.

What Is Land use and Zoning Law?

Land use and zoning law is the regulation of the use and development of public and private real estate. According to the Florida Bar, zoning is the most common form of land-use regulation, used by municipalities to control local property development. Zoning regulations typically divide a municipality (such as a city) into residential, commercial and industrial zones. Thus, zoning laws are intended to maintain a level of order and efficiency within a municipality, while keeping each zone optimized for its intended purpose.

Other legal issues pertaining to land use include:

  • Easements: is a limited, non-ownership interest in another party’s property.

Ex: one might obtain an easement to gain legal access to their neighbor’s driveway if that is the only way to access their house.

  • Trespassing: when an individual enters another’s property without consent.
  • Eminent domain: government seizes property to build a freeway or a park and must give the property owner fair compensation.

Building zoning laws are restrictions on the use of private property that can be justified only in some aspect of the police power asserted in the interest of the public welfare and cannot be enacted or enforced by municipalities without specific legislative authorization therefor. Comprehensive zoning laws and ordinances prescribing, among other things, the height of buildings to be erected and the extent of the area to be left open for light and air and in aid of fire protection, etc., are in their general scope, valid exercises of police power. City of Miami v. Romer, 58 So. 2d 849 (Fla. 1952).

But I Am Buying Commercial Real Estate so I Don’t Need to Worry About Zoning Laws, Right?

Zoning laws can impact any real estate transaction, not just residential real estate. In Florida, many local communities can freely zone their communities as they see fit and are subject to conditions such as restrictions.

The main zoning areas, whether in Florida or across the US are commercial and residential. This means that certain areas of the community can be only commercial or only residential. You don’t usually see a McDonalds pop up in a gated community, this is likely due to zoning laws and restrictions.

Starting a Business in an Industrial Area

Starting your new business in an industrial area may involve a list of inspections and necessary permits. For most businesses in Florida, the Department of Community Development and Planning Division can be the first resource to determine whether or not your business may be in an area consistent with current land use and zoning regulations.

Potential Zoning Issues

Ideally, the area you find to start your business will align with the local zoning and land use laws. If you find yourself in a location where the zoning does not permit your business, you will need to find if there is an exception to zoning. There may be a “variance” or “non-conforming use” qualification that could apply to a zone change.

  • Variance: exception to the requirements of a specific zoning ordinance
  • Non-conforming use: when the earmarked land use preexists current land use regulations

We can help you determine if the location of business is approved under local zoning and land use regulations or if you qualify for an exception.

It is important to talk to an experienced attorney before you commit to a location as the local zoning may present an issue.

What Can an Attorney Do to Help Me With My Zoning Issue?

An attorney can assist clients in obtaining local government development approvals or in opposing approvals. They can also help determine next steps for your new business and help plan out what you need to do to get your business off on a good, and legal foot.

There are a number of potential zoning issues that may arise throughout the process of forming a business. Before you consider opening your business, you should consult an attorney to understand property rights and code compliance with Florida as well as understand what zoning and land use restrictions may be at play. Our attorneys at Rak Law Firm have a unique approach to resolution across areas of business law and construction law. Please do not hesitate to call 407-437-0319 today to schedule your zoning law consultation.

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