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Your options for fighting zoning changes

Cities and towns can change pretty drastically over time. Where there were once homes there might be a new shopping center or public park. While these can sometimes be welcome changes, they often pose a problem for property owners in Delaware. This is because these and other changes are not generally not possible without zoning changes.

When a zoning change affects a property owner's land, he or she has several options for addressing the problem. The first is to get an exception to the new zoning regulations, either through nonconforming use or a variance. An owner can continue to use his or her property in a manner inconsistent with zoning if he or she secures nonconforming use. It is even possible to get a nonconforming use if a structure is in construction, so long as the owner has already expended significant time and money on the project.

A property owner may also request a special permit called a variance, which allows for usage outside of the current zoning regulation. A variance can be for either the land's use, or for structures that are located on the land. For example, a church that wants to build a facility in a residential area would need to secure a variance first.

Rather than asking for an exception, a property owner can also choose to challenge the validity of the zoning change. It is also possible for an owner to argue that the government has essentially taken land that he or she owns. If this argument is not successful, landowners are due fair compensation.

While necessary for growth and development, not all zoning changes are good. Some changes deprive Delaware property owners of the ability to use their land of any economically viable use. Fighting these changes or securing an exception is key to future success, so those who are facing this type of situation may want to learn as much as possible about their options.

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