When you are selling vacant land, the most important thing you need to know about the property is the zoning. This is how potential buyers will evaluate what the property is worth and how the property can be used. As boring and tedious as it may seem, you need to read through all of the ordinances and check for any amendments that have been added. An important point here is to make sure you are looking at the most current updated information!
How do zoning districts affect the land you’re selling? Single-family detached dwellings, agriculture and recreational land will each have an approved district. These type of uses are listed as by-right use and usually don’t require any approvals by zoning boards. Uses such as schools and golf courses and places of worship are permitted in these same districts but must seek special permission and will depend on approval by the zoning board.
Special permission is not granted automatically. Before special permission is granted, it has to be proven that the use meets the definition of the ordinance and that any use-specific requirements will be met. Those specific requirements may include but are not limited to minimum site area, building coverage, buffering and parking.
There are various classifications when it comes to zoning ordinances. A potential buyer that wants to determine the zoning of your property can look for your property on the zoning map and review the ordinances for that zone. Land that is deemed residential, commercial and industrial or any other uses are marked on zoning maps. Any requirements for the uses, dimensions and of each zoning district will tell a potential buyer what they can or can not do with the land.
While the terms rezoning and variance seem to have the same meaning, they are different. Rezoning is to change the current zoning of a property from one classification to another. An example of rezoning is reclassifying a lot from residential only use to commercial use for a business. Variance is a request to relieve a zoning requirement. The ordinance would be changed it applies to a specific property for a specific reason. This does not change the basis of the zoning classification though. A variance is granted when the municipal zoning board is shown that an unreasonable hardship is placed on the person, organization or business requesting it. Any reason given for economic purpose will be denied.
So why does zoning necessary you may ask? When it comes to land, one size does not fit all. Therefore, the land use laws along with state legislature are in place to develop land within a states own borders by using the zoning methods. Land use laws are to protect the land as well as make our quality of life good.