How does zoning influence a property's use and value?

Any real estate purchase is a major investment. Before buying a piece of property, buyers should look carefully at how the property is zoned. Zoning regulations will heavily influence a property's investment value.

Property can be zoned for commercial use, residential use, mixed use (residential and commercial), industrial use, among other categories. Within each of these categories there can be subsections, should as single-family homes within a residential area, or heavy industry or light industry. Other zoning restrictions can include how big and how tall a building can be, how close buildings can be to each other, how much parking is required and other factors. Any or all of these factors can play a major role in developing a piece of real estate.

Can property owners change how a property is zoned?

Property owners can seek to rezone property. They can also seek variances or special use permits. Rezoning involves changing how a property is zoned. This process can be complicated and involves convincing the appropriate agencies of the value of rezoning an area of land.

When seeking a variance, a property owner is seeking an exception to existing zoning laws. When seeking a special use permit, a property owner is seeking to use a property in a way that is compatible with existing zoning laws. Any of these can be difficult to obtain, depending on the situation.

In Georgia, each county and city has unique processes and procedures. Typically, a property owner will complete an application and present his or her proposal at a public hearing. An attorney will be critical in preparing the strongest possible case in support of a variance, special-use permit or rezoning application. Furthermore, an attorney can provide substantial value before purchasing a property to determine whether the property's intended use will conflict with existing zoning laws.

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