A land variance is a one-time deviation from zoning stipulations in which an exception to existing zoning specifications is requested. It is a request to ignore zoning with good reason and evidence that deems it a positive zoning exception for the property. These types of requests have a higher success rate when supported by legal experience and professional representation by a land use attorney who knows the protocol for a land variance in Orange County and understands how to properly ask for one.
Blake & Ayaz Orange County land use variance lawyers have 60 years of legal experience supporting individuals, businesses, and professional corporations in Orange County. Our legal team understands zoning requirements and can provide legal counsel that can optimize the outcome of your land use variance request and efforts in Orange County.
If a parcel of land is zoned inconsistently with the way in which the owner of the property wants to use it, the owner may submit an application to their local jurisdiction requesting a variance in the zoning of the property. Each jurisdiction in Orange County, CA has its own rules and regulations for applying for a zoning variance. In most cities and towns, though, property owners submit an application and pay a fee to initiate the rezoning process.
Following the application submission for a rezoning request, the property owner will have an opportunity to present the reasons for requesting a rezoning, and the owner may submit supplemental evidence and visual aids that support their request.Supplemental material may include the following:
Materials to support a rezoning request can be anything that supports the argument that a rezoning of the land would better serve the environment, the community, the economy, the neighborhood, and the area in general.
The property owner should aim to communicate the proposed plan in the most comprehensive way possible. To make the most impact, individuals, developers, businesses, and professional corporations often hire a construction attorney and various types of engineers to work on a rezoning case. These professional contributors usually end up being key players in assisting with the rezoning process.
If the local jurisdiction denies the owner rezoning, there may be an opportunity to appeal the decision either within the administrative structure of the city government or in a court of law. Regardless, a zoning lawyer is a very good resource to have in cases that seek to appeal a decision not to change a property’s zoning.
A land variance, on the other hand, is a request for deviation from existing zoning requirements. It permits the owner of a property to use their land in contradiction to the current zoning without altering the zoning ordinance. In other words, a variance is a waiver of current zoning requirements.
A variance is typically granted when the owner of the property demonstrates that existing zoning presents an impractical and difficult use of the property and that a rezoning of the property would better serve the land and the community, as well as the environment. To get a variance, the landowner must first submit an application requesting the variance and pay a fee. Normally, the zoning board will review the request first and notify nearby and connecting property owners. The zoning examiner will then hold a hearing determining whether the variance will be permitted. Applicants may be required to go before a municipality governing body, such as the city council, for a final decision on a variance request.
Non-conforming uses – A non-conforming use permit allows a property to remain in use as it has been in use, despite the fact that its use violates current zoning requirements. This type of allowance is made when a landowner was using the building or land prior to the zoning ordinances being put into law. A non-conforming use is often grandfathered into zoning but will usually only be allowed if a property is always used in the non-conforming way. Consequently, if a business is not open year-round and the non-conforming use laps during any part of the year, the non-conforming use allowance could be revoked.
Conditional use permits are similar to variances in that they allow non-permitted use of property despite zoning codes that would otherwise prevent the use in question. Conditional use permits typically require allowance via a public hearing before a political body. Following a public discussion and consideration of the proposed use, conditional use is granted if the body deems the new use of the land would better serve the public interest.
Eminent domain grants power to the government to use private property for public use against the will of the private owner. Examples of public use include traditional government responsibilities and initiatives, including the building of roads, public facilities, government buildings, parks, recreational complexes, and other beneficial community venues. In many cases, eminent domain is used when the government wishes to protect a historical property, preserve areas such as wetlands or scenic areas, or if the government deems the property owner is unable to effectively make use of the land in the interest of the community. In some eminent domain situations, the property owner may be able to file suit against the government for compensation of the confiscated property.
Determining the most logical zoning modification option for your land development project can be a grueling process, and you may end up taking a less-than-favorable route. An experienced variance attorney who knows the implications and request requirements of every municipality in Orange County can sensibly determine whether you should apply for a variance or request a rezoning of your property. You may also have other options available that you are unaware of. Some additional ways a construction lawyer can provide assistance to developers, business owners, and other interested parties are below.
Variances, as well as rezoning efforts, can allow for new opportunities and possibilities for land use and the developers who own properties with atypical zoning variance allowances. However, these types of battles are sometimes not worth the fight. To get a preliminary opinion on your commercial zoning variance request, speak to a well-qualified land use variance lawyer before making a final decision on your land use variance plans. Contact a Blake & Ayaz Orange County land use attorney to get a professional opinion on your options. We can provide invaluable legal advice for your upcoming development projects and potential land use variance needs.