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Contractors may need to appear before their local zoning board

Although local communities often welcome small business development, such matters typically must go through zoning and land use permitting. In a recent example, Leesburg officials discussed the ratio of commercial to office use in a development called the Village at Leesburg.

The debate was prompted by a modification request from the developers. The current permit allows for a ratio of commercial to office usage of 2.5 to 1.0, measured in square feet. The developers have leased the commercial space, but have encountered more difficulties filling the vacant office space. According to the developer, market conditions make it tough to fulfill the current ratio. For relief, the developer requested permission to build multifamily units on the remaining footage. 

Zoning district boundaries often have specific requirements. In fact, a developer or any individual undertaking construction is generally required to obtain permits from the local zoning board before beginning the work. Such permits may apply to maters of alterations, additions, decks, sheds, basement finishing, and even swimming pools. In this case, city planners had a specific vision for the mix of commercial and office property.

An individual or developer seeking an exception to a zoning requirement does not necessarily have to request an official change in the zoning law, however. One option may be to request a variance. Our Leesburg, Virginia law firm has experience helping property owners, contractors and businesses navigate the complexity of local zoning and land use laws.

Today's story has a happy ending. The local planning commission debated the developer’s request to change the mix of commercial, office and residential use. They voted to recommend approval to the town council, which will be the final step in the administrative zoning process.

Source: LoudounNow, “Propose Zoning Change May Open Door to More Apartments in Leesburg,” Feb. 8, 2017

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