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Do you need a zoning variance?

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2023 | Real Estate Law |

Zoning laws dictate how you can use land within a particular area. These laws ensure orderly development and protect the property owners and community. Zoning variances provide an exception to those regulations, allowing property owners to deviate from those zoning rules when necessary.

There are several situations when you might need a zoning variance.

Non-conforming use

When your existing property does not comply with the current zoning regulations, you may need a variance to continue using it as it is. For example, a property zoned for residential use with a small commercial bakery on the land may necessitate a variance to maintain the business.

Dimensional requirements

Many zoning laws define parameters including minimum lot sizes, setback dimensions and height limits for construction. Any proposed project that falls outside those parameters requires a zoning variance. For example, building a multi-story building in an area with height restrictions often requires a variance before you start construction.

Unique circumstances

If adhering to the zoning laws creates an undue hardship or prevents the reasonable use of property, you can request a variance. Present a case to the zoning board explaining the situation and showcasing the complications.

Historic preservation

There are 15 properties in Contra Costa County registered with the California Office of Historic Preservation. When you need to make any changes to a historically significant property, you might need a zoning variance depending on the changes, the property’s zoning and the historical integrity of the plans.

Zoning laws can create restrictive situations that interfere with the plans you have for your property. Although variance approvals are not guaranteed, there are situations when the board considers and approves modifications on a per-property basis.

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