In almost every major urban area in the United States, including Philadelphia, the development and use of real estate is regulation by the local municipality through what is called coning regulations and restrictions.
The main purpose of zoning is to specify what districts or zones will be used for residential, commercial and industrial development and use. Other restrictions for the land use can be very detailed including detailed requirements for the type of structures permitted, the geographical location of utility lines, building setbacks, and specific regulations about the height, size, materials and cost of buildings among others.
If the plans you have for your real estate are not in accordance with the zoning regulations you do have an option to challenge the current zoning requirements. You can do this through the petition of a variance which, if granted, will allow you to use the property in a manner that is non-compliant by the zoning ordinance. It should be considered a waiver not a permanent change to the law.
Variances are typically conceded when the owner can demonstrate how the current regulations present a practical difficulty to his or her use of the property. Each municipality has its own specific process for variance requests and they often include a written application, a payment of fees, and hearing with the zoning board. For this hearing the neighbors of the property are invited to attend to show their agreement or disagreement with the petitioned changed.
If you would like to seek a variance to the zoning regulations of your property Legal Philly can guide you through your municipality’s specific requirements and procedures.
Free Legal Consultation
Michael N. Kotik, Esq. (PA, NJ)