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Real estate: Can I change the zoning for my property?

Owning property is an exciting experience, and many landowners have lofty goals for their future land use. Unfortunately, zoning laws tend to get in the way of some of the best plans. Although it may feel impossible to get around these types of real estate restrictions, many people in New York are pleased to discover they have options for moving forward with their plans.

Governments regulate how certain lands can be used through zoning. Zoning certainly has its benefits and is widely touted as being an essential aspect of orderly growth that ultimately serves the interests of the public. Zones often focus on advancing the health, safety and general welfare of the community. However, the broad application of zoning laws does not always take into account the various nuances that go into growth, and owners whose plans coincide with the well-being of the community might find that they are blocked from moving forward.

In some cases, zoning laws change after a property has already been used in a certain manner for some time. If the new zoning ordinance conflicts with the established use, a landowner could apply for a continuing existing use. This or a lawful nonconforming use exception would allow a landowner to proceed with the current land use.

Landowners can also challenge the zoning procedure, which can be complicated but also worthwhile. Depending on the situation, a person might even have several different viable options at their disposal. However, since New York real estate law is complicated, consulting with an attorney before moving forward is usually a good idea.

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