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Finding ways to work with zoning laws

Maryland municipalities each have their own particular zoning laws and regulations. These rules govern what kind of enterprise may operate in any given area of the town and they are meant to prevent commercial and industrial activities from conflicting with each other or with residential use.

However, neighborhoods evolve rapidly and the zoning regulations set down by the city councils of the past may not be sufficient to today's needs. It may be a good idea to build a new commercial enterprise in an area that had previously been designated residential, or it may happen that a business springs out of a property in a different type of zone and grows to the point where it could conflict with the rules.

In cases such as these, it may be possible to go to the council and get a variance, a conditional use permit or some other form of exemption to zoning regulations. A variance will often require the business to prove that its activities will not unduly disrupt the existing neighborhood. Conditional use permits will allow the commercial activity so long as certain conditions are met. If the council refuses any such activity, then it is possible to file an appeal with the court requesting it to overturn the decision.

In any of these cases, any attempt to change the application of zoning laws that may be contemplated will likely meet with more success if the business has the positive assent of the community and business leaders. An attorney may be able to advise on the best way to present a case before the zoning board and to build the network of support that might be helpful to sway its opinion.

Source: Findlaw, "How to Handle Problems with Commercial Zoning Laws", accessed on July 10, 2016

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