1818 Blog

Zoning – Don’t Let Zoning Dictate Your Plans


When it comes to property development, there are a lot of rules and regulations to navigate. From zoning laws and regulations to building codes, there may be a lot of restrictions on what you can and cannot do with your property. However, just because the law may not allow what you have envisioned for your property, it does not mean you should give up on your plans entirely. With the help of a knowledgeable lawyer, you can explore options for zoning relief that would allow you to move forward with your project as originally conceived.

Zoning laws govern how land can be used in a particular area. These laws are put in place by local governments to ensure that land use is consistent with the community’s needs. For example, zoning laws may designate specific areas for residential, commercial, or industrial use. They may also regulate the height and density of buildings in a particular area.

Understanding your zoning will give you a sense of what you can and cannot do with your land. If you have a particular vision for your property that doesn’t align with the zoning laws, you may need to seek zoning relief.

Various options may be available to property owners who want to deviate from the standard zoning laws. The most common types of zoning projects include variances, administrative adjustments, waivers, special use permits, planned developments, and zoning map changes.

A variance is a type of zoning relief that allows property owners to deviate from the standard zoning laws in a minor way. For example, if the zoning laws in your area require a specific setback for new buildings, you may be able to seek a variance to reduce the setback and build your property as initially designed.

Administrative adjustments are similar to variances but are granted by a government official rather than a board or commission. Administrative adjustments are typically used for minor changes to the zoning laws.

A special use permit is a type of zoning relief that allows property owners to use their land in a way that is not typically allowed under zoning laws. For example, suppose the zoning laws in your area prohibit the operation of a particular type of business. In that case, you may be able to seek a special use permit to operate that business on your property.

A planned development is a type of zoning relief that allows property owners to develop their land in a way that is different from the standard zoning laws. For example, this may involve creating a mix of residential, commercial, and industrial uses on a single property.

For bigger projects, a zoning map change involves changing the zoning designation for a particular area. This can be a more complex process than the other types of zoning relief and will likely involve multiple stakeholders and a public hearing.


Most houses and structures are not built directly on their property lines. The space between the structures and the boundaries is known as setbacks. These setbacks are predetermined minimum distances the local government sets, dictating how close a structure can be built to the property line. Setbacks can vary depending on the area of the property and are often different for the front and sides. Each municipality has its own rules regarding setbacks in each zoning district.

So why are setbacks crucial in real estate? Firstly, they allow for better accessibility to government services like fire and police between houses and yards. Also, proper setbacks facilitate ventilation, which is essential for maintaining healthy air quality. They also allow for natural light and better visual access to the exterior of a property, which contributes to a more aesthetically pleasing environment. Setbacks also ensure that there is enough green space for landscaping, even in the most urban of settings. Lastly, proper setbacks minimize the risk of fire spreading between neighboring structures. Some streets may have special setback requirements, and each zoning category will have slightly different requirements.

Curb Cuts

Curb cuts are an increasingly popular feature for homeowners and businesses, allowing for convenient and easy access to garages or parking spaces. However, while they can be a desirable addition to a property, they can also be a source of contention if not presented correctly to the city and neighbors.

A curb cut involves lowering a portion of the sidewalk to be level with the street and creating a ramp that allows cars to enter and exit a driveway or parking area. This can be an efficient solution for those with vehicles, eliminating the need to park on the street. However, poorly designed curb cuts can create hazards for pedestrians, especially those with mobility challenges.

In addition to safety concerns, curb cuts can remove valuable street parking spaces. This can be a significant issue in areas with limited parking, where every available spot counts.
To address these concerns, curb cuts must be designed and installed correctly, with the necessary permits and approvals from the city. This includes ensuring that the ramp is not too steep, that the curb cut is wide enough to accommodate the vehicle, and that it does not pose a hazard to pedestrians.

Property owners seeking zoning permission for a curb cut should ensure proper communication with neighbors. Homeowners and businesses should seek input from those impacted by the installation, including nearby residents and businesses, and work to address any concerns or issues.

Why use a Zoning Lawyer

If you are considering seeking zoning relief for your property, it is essential to consult with a knowledgeable lawyer who can help you navigate the process. A seasoned zoning lawyer will help you understand options for zoning relief and work with you to develop a strategy for moving forward with your project. With the proper legal guidance, you may find a solution that allows you to achieve your goals for your property, even in the face of zoning restrictions.

If you have questions about setbacks, curb cuts, or other zoning matters, contact us at 1818 for assistance.

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

Contact Us

Get In Touch

Please fill out all fields and submit to request your consultation.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Call Now Button