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Commercial Zoning Law

Commercial Zoning Law

It is not always possible to find a commercial property zoned for a particular use. Commercial zoning laws determine factors like the acceptable business activities in the area and setback requirements, as well as building heights, sizes, and proximities to each other.
When a commercial use violates zoning laws, it’s not always the end of the story, however. There are several options for receiving approval for the business use, even though it may not agree with the commercial zoning laws in the area.

Strong support from the business community may help win over zoning and planning departments. If others can advocate the potential benefit to the community of a particular business, it may be easier to generate backing for the business. The possibility of a full-sized grocery store opening in a location not zoned for the use, for instance, may generate support from the business community if it is likely to generate jobs or stimulate the economy in a city. Seek support from trade associations, the chamber of commerce, and a business development office in the community. It may also be helpful to contact a real estate lawyer in the area to advocate on behalf of the business.

When a “Use” Violates Commercial Zoning Laws


If a zoning ordinance prohibits a use, it is possible to receive relief from the board of zoning adjustment or the board of appeals. Zoning boards typically create zoning laws, regulate zoning, conduct land use hearings and grant conditional use permits and variances for nonconforming uses. Every locality is different, but the board will usually hold a public hearing to determine if it should alter zoning laws or grant a variance. The business will have the opportunity to argue their side and members of the public can voice their opinions as well.

Do what you can to get support from the community. This is a good opportunity to have community members and other nearby businesses offer support orally or through a written petition. It is also effective to ward off any criticism before the hearing by reaching an agreement with people living near the property who may object to the business moving in. Hire a real estate lawyer to request a conditional use permit for you. A board may condition use of a specific activity in a zone on the fulfillment of a condition or set of conditions. You can also have a lawyer request a variance for you. A variance is an exception to a zoning regulation. Many variance statutes require the applicant to establish that an undue hardship exists and that granting the variance will not cause a substantially negative impact on the public.

Appealing Commercial Zoning to Court

If it is impossible to reach an agreement with the zoning board, the business may be able to appeal the decision in court. Going to court, however, is expensive and time-consuming. In fact, it can take several years to receive a court ruling, and there’s no guarantee that the court will decide in your favor.
In some instances, a court may rule quickly on the matter if it only involves ordering a zoning official to carry out a ministerial duty. For example, if a business has complied with all requirements but the official refuses to grant approval, the court may order the government agency to take a particular action.

Commercial Real Estate Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need help from a real estate lawyer in Utah, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506
Ascent Law LLC
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About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.