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Zoning regulations can have a dramatic impact on a property owner’s use of their property.

Zoning laws can impact the purchase of property, the value of property and the uses of property. As a result, property owners impacted by a zoning regulation should understand the different options for challenging one.

Options for challenging a zoning regulation can include:

  • Non-conforming use – one method of challenging a zoning regulation is to argue that the use of the property that is now prohibited by the zoning regulation pre-dates the zoning ordinance that would prohibit that use. If property has been used in a certain manner for a certain period of time, it may be possible for the property owner, unhappy with a zoning ordinance, to successfully argue for a prior non-conforming use exception to the zoning ordinance.

The public benefit of enforcing the zoning ordinance against the property owner may be weighed against the property owner’s interest in varying from the zoning ordinance and it is important to keep in mind that if the non-confirming use ceases, the exception will no longer qualify.

  • Request a variance – another method of challenging a zoning regulation is to request a variance. If the property owner can demonstrate an undue hardship associated with complying with the zoning regulation, they may not be required to conform to its requirements.

Zoning laws are regulations used by the government, usually local governments, for urban planning purposes. There are usually different zoning designations such as commercial, industrial, residential or mixed-use in some circumstances. A failure to follow a zoning regulation when required can result in negative consequences for a property owner which is why they should be familiar with how zoning regulations work and what they can do if they need to challenge one on their property.