Why It Is Worth It to Fight a Zoning Project

Male and female construction workers convening

Recall the serenity prayer – “Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Well, too often in this world, we are forced to accept things we are told we cannot change.  Yet, there are times when we do have the power to make a change, and sometimes we worry that we lack the resources or courage to do it.  

This inner conflict plays out for many people when a developer or property owner comes into a neighborhood and seeks a change variance, special use permit, or some other change to the zoning rules to accommodate their project.  Some zoning change requests are minor, like enlarging a garage to sit closer to the property line.  

Some requests are substantial and must be taken seriously.  For example, developers may want to build a tall building in your neighborhood that will considerably exceed the existing buildings’ height restrictions.  What used to be a sunny part of your living space or garden may become all shade throughout the day.  A developer may also want to construct a parking structure that will add a lot of noise and traffic.  

Why is it worth it to fight a zoning project? What can you do to advocate for your position and your property?  If, after reading this article, you have more questions about how to fight against a zoning project, then I welcome you to contact me.  To learn more about what my representation can do for you, contact me today.  

With Zoning Projects, You Can Have a Voice

You might not see yourself as a “political” person or someone who gets involved in political organizing.  Yet, if someone came into your house and started moving the furniture or muddying up your floors, you would certainly do something about it, right?  It is your house, after all.

The same is true for your neighborhood.  If a neighbor or developer wants to build something that will put your property in its shadow or add significant traffic issues, then you should do something about it as well.

Your city, your town, your municipality has legal requirements in place so that citizens can challenge the reasonableness of a change in zoning.  That’s right, you can have a voice in whether a zoning change happens.  And when your property values are at stake, it would be wise for you to make your voice heard.  Again, when developers come in looking to make massive changes, those changes will likely impact the value of your lifetime investment – your home.

Organize, and Your Voice Will Be Heard

Do you have the courage to get involved in pushing back against a proposed zoning change?  You should, as long as you have a little support.  That support can largely come from other residents in your neighborhood who are just as worried about injury to their property value as you are.  While there are many things to consider when it comes to organizing your neighborhood to shape a development, here are three main things to keep in mind:

  • Get Involved Early.  With any zoning change, there are requirements of the party requesting the change, deadlines, and times when the zoning board must make decisions.  By getting involved early in the process, you will maximize your time to prepare and thus maximize your chances of successfully shaping the proposed development.
  • Watch for Plan Changes.  A developer’s zoning request may morph over time.  Be sure to keep an eye on the process so you know the most current request the developer is making to the zoning board.
  • Organize, and Maintain Interest.  Get lots of neighbors involved in providing feedback.  But be careful not to have your efforts be a ‘flash in the pan.’  Keep your campaign at a steady pace while the zoning process continues.

Don’t Be Afraid to “Call in the Cavalry” – Get the Support of a Professional

Unless you are a lawyer who specializes in administrative law or a lobbyist who has worked on dozens of zoning and licensing issues, the process can be confusing and daunting.  You should seriously consider getting the help of an experienced lawyer or lobbyist to fight on your behalf.

Why have a seasoned zoning lawyer in your corner?  Because the developer certainly will.   Developers spend tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers, lobbyists and public relations firms to push zoning changes needed for their developments.  So, to effectively push back, you’ll need professional support.

To learn more about what the right representation can do for you and your neighborhood, contact me today.

Jordan Matyas

Jordan Matyas

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Jordan Matyas is a lawyer, lobbyist, and Founder of 1818 Legal, an Illinois professional licensing defense law firm he created in 2014. With more than 18 years of experience practicing law, he represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including professional license defense, administrative law, land use and zoning, and state, local, and municipal law.

Jordan received his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois — Chicago School of Law and is a member of the Illinois Bar Association.