How to Justify Rezoning My Home to Commercial

Visitor Question: I am trying to sell my home, but I want to rezone to commercial because of my location. I am surrounded by business. Both neighbors are now turned into commercial property and I am the only one that has not requested to be zoned commercial.

I know that it will be no problem because the county commissioner said it would be easy for me to do. But since I have no experience in selling home and zoning property I am not sure how to write a letter of justification for the zoning change.

I have no intentions to keep property after they approve me. I plan to sell because I will get more money for my property if it is sold as commercial. I just don't know how to put it in writing since I have no plans to what i would do with property after it is zoned commercial. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Editors Answer: The most important point about our answer is that local customs vary considerably in the U.S. In some places, you can be awarded the rezoning based on the comprehensive plan and basic analysis of zoning immediately around you. In other locations, commissioners ask what business will be locating there if the zoning petition is granted, and they balk at rezoning if the petitioner has no answer.

As planners, we like the first approach much more, and this will be more advantageous to you. We like this way of looking at things because specific businesses change anyway, and two years later the commissioners might be looking at a completely different business than the one they thought they were implicitly approving when they did the rezoning.

Also this pure approach to looking at the ideal zoning category, rather than a specific proposal, leads to a more rational and more objective process. Frankly it's less subject to silly neighborhood objections derailing the process too.

So we hope that your commissioners will take this approach.

If you see that they are going to demand to know the specific business that will locate there if they grant the rezoning, you have a bigger problem on your hands. Our advice is to remain honest and civil with them. Explain straightforwardly that you want to do the best you can for your property, as any responsible property owner tries to do. Explain politely that they already have granted rezonings all around you, and that the value of the property for strictly residential purposes probably has diminished because of that past action.

Ask the professional staff, if there is one, to help you with the details of what should be in the letter. They will not write it for you, but they could tell you what information to be sure to include. Believe it or not, they will want to help you because they do not want the commissioners to criticize them because the letter of petition was inadequate or inappropriate.

If there is no staff, you may be able to ask the commissioner who told you this would be no problem to give you some hints.

In brief, we think you should say in your letter that the other properties are zoned commercial, and if commercial uses have been developed on either side of you or across the street, describe those businesses and any impacts that the businesses have on the quiet enjoyment of your home. Describe any other characteristics of your location that make you think your land is best suited to be commercial. Those might be proximity to a major intersection, location on a heavily traveled street, or proximity to other businesses, industries, or large institutions such as colleges or hospitals.

Find out what your comprehensive plan says about the ideal future land use of your property, and if it indicates commercial potential, emphasize that fact. If it indicates residential, point out in the letter that relatively recent rezonings make that impractical.

Don't call any attention to the fact that you will receive more money if you rezone to commercial. They know that, and if your property is known to be for sale already, you won't fool anyone. But don't remind people, as neighbors and activists sometimes get weird if they think someone is going to make an extra buck.

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Comments for How to Justify Rezoning My Home to Commercial

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Rezone Vacant Residential rural to Conditional Recreational Facilities/Community Service
by: CC

We would like to rezone Vacant Residential rural to Conditional Recreational Facilities/Community Service. We just wonder how to go from here. Most of the land around us is more of a church type and warehouse land use. The county asked us to submit a Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map (FLUM) Amendment Pre-Application Meeting Request Form and asked the justification for the request, including asking why should this change be made and what zoning we proposed. I am not sure which one will be better for approval. Please advise, thanks.

Editors Comment: Please read our small edits to your question closely, as they reflect what we think you mean. We will be brief, since this is a comment to someone else's question. Do your best job to explain why you think the land use plan designation (which usually is called something different than the zoning district's name) should be changed. You may have to become specific about your plans for the property, since Conditional Recreational Facilities/Community Service sounds like you have a particular facility or business in mind. Explain what a low impact you think recreational facilities would have on nearby businesses--churches and warehouses don't often care if you have plenty of kids having fun or golfers or zip line customers nearby, but do your very best to show how your proposed land use would be very compatible with what is there now. It sounds like you will have to do a two-step process, the first step being a change in the land use plan, which is a general long-range plan, and then a change in zoning, which is a here-and-now district governing exactly what land uses are permitted. Since you do not seem to know which way to turn, we suggest that you ask again for advice at your local planning department. If they are not helpful, complain gently to that person's supervisor and then if you are still confused, ask an elected official (your county or city councilperson, whatever they may be called) who seems to be knowledgeable about these things. To find out who that is, you probably will have to attend one of their meetings or watch or listen to a recording.

Transitional use a good bet in mixed use area
by: paticia moon

Hello, I have been where you are concerning a residential use in a commercial area. So many people are seeking a work from home lifestyle, or perhaps someone has a partial disability and must work from home. If you have an out building or workshop then your situation has even more options as a work from home, or studio from home type work and live situation. Depending on the types of commercial use around you, if there is no one using outdoor space with a noise producing commercialism, then you are more apt to be accepted as a home occupation. Expand upon the fact that you can still enjoy lower taxes and only pay a tangible tax for the space that you use as a business, as a big plus.

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