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Local zoning laws may threaten your real estate plans

Issues can arise during the purchase, sale, development, construction, financing and/or leasing of commercial and residential real estate. A recent Whole Foods development in a neighboring community provides context.

Developers Must Comply with Zoning Rules

Specifically, a Whole Foods Market just debuted in Prince George’s County. Although many locals welcomed the store’s opening, disputes between residents and the developer stalled the project for years.

The developer’s plan included apartment units. That proposal, in turn, required the rezoning of the neighborhood from single-family housing to a high-density zone with up to 1,000 residential units. Local residents feared that the rezoning would alter the character of the neighborhood. Others, including local elected officials, supported the project as a means of revitalizing the area.

Supporters compared the project to the Whole Foods on P Street NW in the District of Columbia’s Logan Circle, describing the revitalization as the “Whole Foods effect.” As it turns out, local authorities approved the project, and home values have increased as a result of the development.

Due Diligence Can Save Builders Time and Money

In Leesburg, Virginia, local officials have promulgated a Zoning Ordinance that sets forth specific requirements upon residents and businesses embarking upon land development or building projects. The Ordinance is quite detailed, governing issues ranging from signage to permits.

As a law firm that focuses on real estate law, we cannot overemphasize the importance of due diligence and proactive planning. Disputes over lease terms, land use or zoning, or environmental issues that arise after a business has started its operations can be a huge financial drain. Consulting with an attorney can help avoid nasty -- and costly -- surprises.

Source: Washington Post, “Whole Foods debuts in Riverdale Park, another symbol of Prince George’s progress,” Luz Lazo, April 11, 2017

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