Spot Zoning Exception

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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: Jan 7, 2021

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Spot zoning is the placing of a small area of land in a different zone from that of neighboring property. For instance, because it serves a useful purpose to neighborhood residents, a park or school might be granted this zoning exception and be allowed in a strictly residential area.

The Legality of Spot Zoning

In general, spot zoning is recognized as a legitimate exception to zoning. The business owner either seeks a permit to use his land differently than presently permitted under the local zoning law, or he requests that this zoning ordinance be changed for his intended activity. Therefore, he must get the approval of his local governmental agency before being granted the spot zoning exception. However, in some areas of the country, the courts have found spot zoning illegal on the ground that it is incompatible with existing land use zoning or with the overall community zoning plan. Whether the exception carved out is reasonable and supported by the particular facts often turns on public interest, the effect spot zoning has on the current uses of neighboring properties, and any ramifications created by the zoning.

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