If your business is moving into Florida, building in a new area of the state or just starting up, you have many details to attend to. Whether you are renting a commercial property or building a new site, you will be dealing with numerous government entities, regulations and restrictions that will affect where, what and how you operate your business. Among the first issues you may have to confront are the zoning laws in the municipality of your new enterprise.
Unfortunately, zoning laws may hinder you from pursuing your goals with your new business, and they may place unfair limits on you. While some municipalities may seem rigid in their enforcement of zoning laws, understanding how these laws work may help you decide if it is worth it to challenge those laws instead of looking for a different location for your new venture.
What to expect from zoning ordinances
Municipalities establish zones to separate residential areas from commercial, agricultural and industrial sections. In this way, residents can enjoy their homes in peace and comfort without concern for the many inherent drawbacks of industries, such as traffic, noise and pollution. Local governments set the boundaries for these zones, and businesses and residents must comply or risk fines and more serious consequences. However, in addition to dividing the municipality into zones, laws within those zones can place restrictions, such as the following:
- The distance your building must be from other structures, property boundaries or streets
- How much frontage must remain
- How tall and wide your building may be
- The type of structure you may erect on a property
- Where you may place utility lines for your building
- How many rooms or units your building may have
- Any changes to an existing structure that may affect its historic or cultural features
You may find that certain zoning regulations are arbitrary or outdated. On the other hand, you may be able to challenge even reasonable zoning laws if your plans for your business do not endanger the health, safety or welfare of others in the area.
By seeking a variance or easement from the zoning board, you may obtain permission to proceed with plans for your business. This is not always easy, especially if neighboring business owners or residents protest your intentions, and it is wise to examine all your legal options before taking on this battle.