Zoning Appeals: A Detailed Look

Zoning is essential for proper land use and urban development. However, sometimes situations arise where landowners or developers may need to make an exception or change how a parcel of land is used. This is where zoning appeals come in. Below, we break down the key concepts associated with zoning appeals.

1. Zoning Board of Adjustment

It is the body in charge of overseeing the administration of zoning regulations and handling appeals. Acts as a mediating entity between zoning authorities and property owners or developers.

oversees rule administration and appeals

2. Nonconforming use

This term refers to a property that does not follow current zoning regulations, but is legal because the use existed before the creation of the zone. If the use began after the creation of the zone, then it would be illegal.

legal if use existed prior to zone creation, illegal otherwise

3. Variance

Refers to an exception to the permitted use in a specific area based on hardship or adversity. For example, if a landowner cannot use their land in the permitted manner due to unique physical characteristics of the site, they could request a variance.

use exception granted based on hardship

4. Special exception

Unlike a variance, a special exception is granted based on the public interest. It can be granted if a particular project is beneficial to the community, even if it does not exactly comply with zoning regulations.

based on public interest

5. Amendment

This process refers to the change of zones or “rezoning”. It is a modification to the existing zoning regulations. A landowner or developer could request an amendment if they want to change the permitted use of a parcel of land.

change of zones; rezoning


Zoning appeals offer an avenue for property owners and developers to work within the framework of zoning laws, while considering the needs and particularities of individual projects. It is always essential to understand these categories and work with urban planning experts or real estate attorneys when dealing with zoning appeals.

Legal and Tax Disclaimer

Please be advised that the content presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The articles and information provided here are written from the perspective of a real estate agent affiliated with Keller Williams, and do not represent legal or tax counsel.

As the author, I am a licensed real estate professional under Keller Williams, holding Brokerage DRE License Number: #02197031. However, it is important to note that my expertise is in the field of real estate, and not in legal or tax matters. The insights and opinions shared on this blog are based on my experiences and knowledge in the real estate industry and should be treated as general guidance rather than definitive legal or tax advice.

For specific legal or tax concerns relating to any real estate transactions or investments, readers are strongly encouraged to consult with a qualified attorney or tax advisor who can provide tailored advice based on your individual circumstances and the latest legal and regulatory requirements.

The information on this blog is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, and I, along with Keller Williams and its affiliates, disclaim all liability for any loss, damage, or misunderstanding arising from reliance on the information contained herein.

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