Special Use Permit for Property

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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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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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A special use permit allows a landowner to obtain a tract of land for a use that does not fall directly under the permitted usage for that specifically zoned area. In most areas, the community is separated into different zones determined by the community’s zoning commission. These zones are then given a specific set of “by-right” permitted uses. This means that any land within that zone can be used for the permitted usage only, by right of the owner. In addition to the regular usages, under the local zoning regulations, each zone is usually given a “special uses” section allowing for uses that are just outside the intended uses for that zone. 

Needing a Special Use Permit

A special use permit must be obtained by a landowner who wishes to develop a tract of land whose purpose is included in the special uses ordinances for that zone. The zoning permit allows the owner to develop that land for his own intended use, even if it does not fall within the “by-right” guidelines for that particular zone. Examples of special uses under your local zoning guidelines may include schools, funeral homes, hospitals, cemeteries, and other types of land uses which do not fit exactly into the description of residential or commercial uses.

Obtaining a Special Use Permit

Usually a special use permit is granted if the landowner’s application is brought before the zoning commission in a public forum, and the community does not object to the proposed development. A local attorney can advise the owner if a special permit is needed, and the appropriate steps for any required special use permit.

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