Appealing a Zoning Decision

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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The property owner found it difficult to comply with the local zoning ordinance, so he applied for a zoning change to use his land in the way he intended. His request before the local zoning board was denied, so he now wants to appeal this adverse decision.

Process of Appeal

Though the specific appeal procedures depend on the provisions in his local zoning laws, generally the property owner can appeal to the local zoning board of appeals. The owner is more apt to be successful if he can show the existing zoning of the property deprives him of his right to use the property, that his request for rezoning does not negatively impact surrounding properties, the board’s actions were arbitrary and unsupported by the facts, and/or all legal requirements for this adverse decision were not met. Depending on the local laws, an appeal to the zoning board of appeals may be required prior to going through the court system.

Pursuing the Court System to Overturn the Zoning Board’s Decision

Since the property owner cannot effectively use his land as classified under existing local zoning laws, his argument may be that the zoning ordinance is arbitrary or unreasonable. Keep in mind that he will have an uphill battle because the court gives heavy deference and latitude to the decisions of local zoning authorities. In making its determination, the court will consider factors such as the relationship of the current zoning laws to the public health, safety, and welfare of the community, any abuse of governmental power, and any discrimination.

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