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Think Inside the Commercial Zoning Box

One of the most important factors in a commercial real estate transaction is Zoning and Land Use. There are Zoning laws that dictate how commercial property and land may be used for business.  Because the laws constantly change, a zoning investigation (Zoning Due Diligence) should be performed before purchasing or leasing a commercial building or land. Some of the items in the Zoning Due Diligence process include:

  1. Verify Zoning – to ensure the intended use of property is legal.
  2. Obtaining Use Permits if needed to comply with Zoning– At times, use of the property may vary slightly from the zoning needed to conduct business. In this case a Use Permit may need to be obtained through the city so that the company’s use will fully comply. Often, the company or individual applying for the Use Permit hires an attorney to handle this process to make sure the final use totally complies.
  3. Verifying there are no pending zoning changes: Sometimes, zoning changes so check with the city zoning department to verify the company or individual intended use will comply.

Planning to invest or lease commercial real estate? Make sure your understanding of the city’s Zoning Ordinances and how they may affect your business plans.  Most Cities have an Economic Development Department offering assistance to help business owners.  Buyers and tenants are ultimately responsible for complying with zoning. However, if there are questions, a knowledgeable Real Estate Broker should be available to obtain the proper definitions of uses and direct the client to the proper department or zoning attorney.