You have decided to open a business, or your business is growing, so you need to find space to operate.  Before moving into that new location you found, make sure you can actually run your business at that location.  In other words, you can’t just open up a business anywhere you want to since your county, city, or town has land use and zoning regulations, rules that dictate what type of business can go where and how that business can operate.

What are Land Use & Zoning regulations?

Land Use & Zoning regulations are used by county and municipal governments to control how property is developed and used within their borders. In general, the main purpose and function of land use designations is to divide cities and towns into residential, commercial, and industrial zones. Within these designations, are different zoning districts that regulate how property can be used within these districts.  For example, a city’s residential zone may be divided into single-family, duplex, low density (buildings with less than 20 units), and high density (buildings with more than 20 units).

The 3 Types of Zoning Designations

  • Residential zoning includes single-family residences, apartments, duplexes, trailer parks, etc.  In terms of operating a business in a residential zone, many cities do allow home-based businesses. However, some cities prohibit all at-home business. So, if you are thinking of operating your business from your home make sure you know what your city or town allows.
  • Commercial zoning includes office buildings, shopping centers, clubs, hotels, restaurants, and warehouses.  Commercial zones are usually divided up around complimentary uses. For example, a city may allow restaurants and offices downtown, but not warehouses.  This means that just because your business is located in a commercial district does not necessarily mean you can operate your specific business there.
  • Industrial zoning is for businesses that are usually more disruptive to their neighbors due to noise, traffic, and/or vibrations.  These types of businesses including manufacturing factories, mining facilities, and processing plants.

Prior to signing a new lease or purchasing a building or office condo for your business, it is extremely important to review the applicable Land Use & Zoning regulations for the property. You want to ensure you will have the ability to operate your business at the location before incurring costs and liabilities.  It is also important to note that sometimes a district will allow for a use, but will require special approval or may require a waiver or variance. In these situations, you will want to seek counsel from an attorney experienced in Land Use & Zoning to assess the likelihood of receiving such special approval, waiver, or variance.  And, you will want to work with such attorneys to give you and your business the best chance actually receiving the necessary special approval, waiver, or variance.

Figuring out the Land Use and Zoning designation for a property can be confusing and the process for obtaining the required approvals, overwhelming. Ser & Associates is experienced in land use and zoning matters helping business owners get started on the right foot. So, if you’re looking to open a business or move to a new location, don’t hesitate to contact us today at 305-222-7282.

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