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Faith, Ledyard & Faith, PLC dba Faith Law
Faith, Ledyard & Faith, PLC dba Faith Law

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  4.  » How does a variance work?

How does a variance work?

When purchasing a property, an important thing to check first is what zone that property is located in. This will help to dictate how you can use the real estate after you buy it.

In many municipalities, there are residential zones, commercial zones and industrial zones. Even within these specific areas, you can find slight differences. For example, one commercial zone may be set up for gas stations and fast food restaurants, while another is for bars or nightclubs. Business owners have to make sure that they buy a property that is in the right zone for the type of business they want to run.

Requesting a variance

In some cases, though, owners will find that they are not permitted to run their business in the zone, and they can ask for a variance. If this variance is granted, then the business owner is allowed to break those regulations. Every variance is considered on an individual basis, looking at things like how it will impact the neighborhood and whether or not the variance would be economically beneficial for that area.

Even when a variance is granted to one business owner, though, the zone does not change. All other business owners are still bound by the same regulations. The variance allows one specific business owner to break those zoning regulations, but it does not change the rules themselves. If a nearby business owner already got a variance, for example, you would still need to seek your own variance to run a similar business in that area.

This process can get complicated, and the city can shut down your business if it’s operating in the wrong zone or without the proper variance. Be sure you know what legal steps you’ll need to take to make things go smoothly.


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