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A variance doesn’t change the zone

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2024 | Real Estate Law |

In some cases, the way that a person wants to use a piece of property isn’t allowed under the zone. For instance, someone may buy a building that they want to run a business out of, anticipating that it will get a lot of foot traffic. However, they could then discover that the building they purchased is in a residential zone, so commercial operations are not allowed.

One way to get around this is by applying for a variance. If the variance is granted, this gives the property owner the ability to use that real estate in a different way. The business owner may in fact be allowed to run their company out of a home in a residential area if they are given the proper variance. Does this mean that they have changed the zone itself?

The zone remains the same

It does not mean that the zone has changed; it stays the same. Instead, a variance just allows the property owner to violate that zone in a specific way. 

This is important to note for two reasons. First of all, a variance that has been granted to one business does not change the regulations for any other business. The zone is the same, so other business owners still have to apply individually. It’s certainly possible for one business to be given a variance while another gets denied. 

The second reason is that the variance may be unique to that business; the business owner is allowed to run a specific type of company. This doesn’t mean they can start any other type of business they want at that location. 

Real estate issues like this can sometimes get complicated. Those involved need to be well aware of their legal options.