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Practice Areas

Zoning & Land Use

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Navigate Zoning Laws with a Land Use Attorney

While not a topic most people regularly consider, zoning plays a very large role in our everyday lives.  Where you work, where you live, and even where you enjoy a peaceful day at the park are (in part) all decided by zoning.  Zoning occurs when a local government divides property and designates classifications for how each parcel of real estate may be used.  Many considerations go into these land use decisions, such as plans for future growth of the area, how that growth is best accomplished, and how to best insure property owners do not conflict with one another’s land usage.

The most common zoning classifications are:

Often, the negative aspects of zoning are focused on, as zoning is in essence the act of restricting how a property owner may develop their land.  Local zoning boards work to determine the best balance between available space and the needs of the community.  Building an apartment complex (a residential structure) between two industrial factories would likely cause a multitude of land use issues, including noise complaints from residents not to mention potential health concerns due to industrial pollution output by the factories.  Likewise, erecting a playground in the middle of a dense commercial area may pose a risk to children if heavy traffic and construction is commonplace.

Building codes work hand-in-hand with zoning laws.  Many typical zoning disputes are, in reality, building or construction disputes.  These may include:

  • How or if signage may be displayed
  • How many parking spaces and/or their configuration a business must have
  • How tall a building may be

Even parcels of land that are in the same class may be zoned differently.  Of two adjacent residential parcels, one may be zoned for single-family homes, and the other for multiple-family structures such as condos or apartments.  Zoning codes can be quite specific, regulating details such as how far a structure must be from the street, number of rooms within a structure, and even the size of said rooms.

Before you buy a parcel of property, make sure you know how it is zoned.  While classifications can be changed, the effort, time, and money you will have to invest are considerable and may leave you with a piece of land unsuitable for your goals.  Consult a land use attorney before making that risky purchase.  You don’t have to face a zoning dispute alone.  At Bogin, Munns & Munns, our real estate and zoning attorneys have experience handles zoning disputes including easements, variances, and subdivisions.

Our Land Use / Zoning  attorneys work aggressively to ensure your commercial development matters are handled with the care you should expect from a firm that has been around for over 40 years.  With 13 locations throughout Florida, our attorneys are happy to meet you in the location that is most convenient to you. With our Main office in Orlando, we have 12 other offices including Clermont, Cocoa, Daytona, Gainesville, Kissimmee, Leesburg, Melbourne, Ocala, Orange City, St. Cloud, Titusville, and The Villages.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I verify the land use and/or zoning on my property?

The easiest method is to contact the Growth Management Department of the City or County in which your property is located and ask the Planner on duty that day.  On a rotating basis, each Planner employed within the Department is usually tasked with answering questions from the public.

How long does a Special Exception, Variance, and Conventional Rezoning process take?

It varies depending upon the local governmental entity involved and how backed up they are with pending applications.  It is also fact specific.  With that being said, a rezoning can be accomplished within 6 months if the process proceeds smoothly.  All other land use matters tend to proceed more quickly, save large-scale (greater than 10 acres) Comprehensive Plan amendments which have to be approved by the State of Florida.   The key is to hire an experienced land use attorney to get the process started.  The land use attorney will then work collaboratively with experienced engineers, architects and/or certified land planners to accomplish the client’s aspirations for the project while working with the local government’s Staff.  The land use attorney’s role is to coordinate the whole process, summarize it into an excellent presentation and procure the votes necessary to receive the development’s approval by the elected City Council or County Commission.

I would like to expand my business’ building space on my property but I am not zoned for an expansion. What can I do?

You must hire a land use attorney.  That attorney will work with City or County Staff to determine and resolve the issue preventing the expansion.  If the expansion is merely prohibited due to the zoning classification for that property, then the issue can be solved by rezoning the property from, for example, “NC – Neighborhood Commercial” to “I – Industrial” or “CC – Community Commercial.

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Bogin, Munns & Munns Can Help With Your Real Estate Case

Fill out our online Real Estate Questionnaire to receive a free telephone discussion with one of our real estate attorneys or call 407.578.1334 to schedule your consultation at any one of our Central Florida offices.

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