Zoning Tips

W+L Top Five Zoning Tips

1. It’s not about you — it’s about the property.

The law in Ohio says that zoning boards are supposed to focus on the unique elements of the property in question, so your argument in front of these boards should focus on the characteristics of the property. For instance, you should tell the board that you should get that variance because the slope of your backyard makes it impossible to comply with the normal zoning requirements.

2. Get your neighbors on your side.

Even though the law is supposed to focus on the characteristics of the property, it never hurts to have your neighbors on your side. If your neighbors can come to the board hearing, that’s even better. They can be your best allies or your worst enemies, so it’s better to get their support lined up early if you can.

3. Share high-quality project renderings.

Most zoning boards or commissions have some requirements about what you have to submit with your zoning application. Don’t be afraid to submit visuals. Zoning board members are also your future neighbors, so show them what they can expect to see once your project is approved. Show a drawing instead of a plat. Show a full-color rendering instead of a black-and-white depiction.

4. Be prepared.

How often does this zoning board grant requests? Do the members ask a lot of questions? Is there a staff report that gets distributed to the board? Knowing the answers to these questions gives you a leg up when you walk in that room to make your presentation. Knowing the questions to ask before your presentation is even more important.

5. OK, it is about you.

We know what the law requires, so prepare for that. We also know human nature can throw curve balls. You can explain the law, have the best project visuals, have your neighbors’ support, and know exactly how the board likes to run meetings. But none of that matters if you’re a jerk. Zoning board members want to know what they are letting in their communities, and they don’t welcome difficult people who may cause more problems in the future. Don’t be a jerk and you might just be halfway there!

The attorneys in the W+L Local Government Law Practice Area have been solving zoning problems for years. And they don’t do that only for the local governments they represent. They also know how to resolve an individual’s issues. And, because they know the government side of the process so well, they are more efficient than others.

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