It isn’t every day that a business owner is faced with the prospect of changing how a piece of property is zoned. There are a couple of situations that typically cause this type of situation to arise:
- You may already own some property and want to operate a business that is not consistent with its current use. For example, it might be zoned for light retail and you want to do metal fabrication, which might include hazardous chemicals.
- Maybe your metal fabrication business has grown and you need more space. You decide to move outside the city limits. You identify a property that would be great for your business and want to move it there. But, the property is zoned for agricultural use.
In both of the examples above, you would need to have your metal fabrication business located on property that is zoned for industrial production. I want to talk about a few of the issues you should be aware of as you contemplate this process.
Most zoning decisions are handled locally. Where is the property located? In the city limits? Or, the unincorporated county? This will determine jurisdiction. You will likely be working with the city council or county commissioners. Plus, some form of a planning and zoning department.
You should get an understanding of the rezoning process early on. The zoning department probably has the rules, regulations and process prepared and can give it to you. Or it may be on their website. Either way, make sure you know how it works so that you can do everything properly.
The people at the zoning department will want to understand how you plan to develop the property. There may already be a land use plan in place that encompasses your property. You should find out. They may ask for architectural drawings of any planned buildings, and a proposed site map.
It often makes sense to have an informal conversation with someone who is on either the city council, county commission or zoning department. Or, someone who has contact with them. Your attorney may be able to help with this. Try to find out whether this type of request would be favorably received. How would they feel about your type of business being located there? Hopefully, they will be receptive because your business will generate more business activity, which will generate more tax revenue. Political considerations can have an impact on the outcome.
How will the neighboring land owners feel? They may object because they don’t like the idea of the extra traffic or hazardous chemicals. If so, you will need to develop a strategy to overcome their objections. This is because you will likely have to go before the zoning department and city council/county commission, in a public setting, to get approval. The people who object will have the opportunity to state their objections.
You will probably have to run a legal advertisement in the local paper. Probably 2 or 3 times. Your attorney can help with this. It will have to be in a specific form.
I mentioned an attorney a couple of times. You will need one to help with the process. I suggest that you not try to do this by yourself. You want to get this right and not be turned down on a technical issue.
Another factor to be aware of: This will not be a quick process. I did this once and it took months and months.
This may seem a bit daunting. But, it is the process that you have to go through to get the best possible commercial use from your land.
B.S. in Business Administration, The Ohio State University
M.B.A., The Ohio State University
Business Consultant in Rome
Matt’s previous work experience includes financial management positions in the computer, freight/logistics and investment management industries. He also owned a business in northwest Georgia. He has worked in the Fortune 100, international business, and start-up operations. He brings an extensive background in the areas of financial planning and analysis, general management, business modeling, cash management, management reporting, taxes, sale & acquisition of businesses, and payroll & personnel management. With this broad background and perspective, he is able to help his clients determine the best course of action for their businesses or situations.