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Understanding the process of changing laws regarding land use

Delaware residents may be interested in some information about how to change or get around zoning laws. These actions generally require that the person convince the local authorities of the change at a hearing.

Cities and municipalities often have specific zoning laws which govern land use in that jurisdiction. These laws may be pre-existing or may change during the time a person is running their business. When the law conflicts with the person's planned use, there may be ways to change or get an exception from these laws.

For a change in a zoning law, a property owner must typically submit an application for the change and pay a filing fee. There is then a hearing, in which the person must present evidence of their proposed use of the land and their reasons for requesting a change. Often, this evidence includes surveys, plans and models of the proposed use.

One way to move forward with the desired use without actually changing the zoning laws is to request a variance. This is an allowance by local authorities to use the property in a way that is inconsistent with the existing zoning laws. Usually, the property owner must show that there is some practical difficulty in using the land under existing the zoning law. As with the change, this process usually includes an application, filing fee and hearing to demonstrate the need for the variance. Another method is through a conditional use permit, which generally requires that the use of the property must be for the public good.

The process of obtaining a variance or change in zoning laws can be difficult without the assistance of an attorney. However, an attorney could help file the proper forms and represent the property owner in the hearing in order to achieve the desired result.

Source: Findlaw, "Zoning Changes, Variances, and More", December 24, 2014

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