Zoning Exceptions: “Conditional Use” and “Variances”

When owning land, one of the most common challenges is adapting to zoning regulations. However, there are mechanisms that allow owners to make a use different from that established by zoning. Let's look at a practical case and the available solutions.

Practical Case: The Desire to Build a Business in a Residential Area

Let's imagine that a property owner wants to build a grocery store in an area zoned exclusively for residential use. The question is: how can you obtain the necessary permission to carry out your project?

Common Options and Their Viability

  • “Novation”: NO. A novation is not related to zoning, but to the replacement of a debt or one of the parties in a contract.
  • “Amendment”: NO. Although it is possible to change zoning regulations through an amendment, it is a process that affects an entire area and not just a particular property.
  • Approval of surrounding owners: NO. Although having the support of neighbors can be beneficial in many cases, it alone does not allow an exception to zoning regulations.
  • “Conditional Use Permit” or “Zoning Variance”: YEAH. These are mechanisms designed to provide flexibility in zoning.

Going deeper into “Conditional Use” and “Variances”

A “Conditional Use Permit” It is an exception that allows property owners to use their property in non-conforming ways with the current zoning. On the other hand, a “variance” is a request to deviate from current zoning requirements.


The challenges around zoning may seem complex, but there are legal tools such as conditional use permits and variances that allow homeowners to adapt and carry out their projects. It is essential to know these tools and how they are applied in each situation.

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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