10 Things to Avoid on Your Commercial Project – Item #4: Zoning Issues
A crucial piece of the puzzle is zoning. It’s a puzzle because each town has its own rules (and definitions) when it comes to regulating land use. You will want to know if your proposed use is allowable on the property you plan to develop. If not, a variance process may allow you to develop the property to your specifications.
The development or re-development of a site will almost always require a public hearing with the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment. One exception is tenant fit-outs or existing building use without exterior modifications. These types of development projects usually require just building permits and won’t be required to go through a Board approval process.
A Planning Board approval can add a significant amount of time to a project. These applications can run from 4 months to 18 months or more. If your project is on undeveloped land, you should budget approximately 12 months for approval. Consulting with an architect and/or civil engineer will help guide you through this process. Should a variance be required, a land-use attorney is a valuable asset as he will represent you before the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment.