A special use permit allows a parcel of land or property to be used in a manner that deviates from normally accepted activities in that area. In other words, the special use permit creates exceptions to zoning regulations and ordinances. These permits are generally issued and overseen by local zoning bodies and authorities.

An example of a special use permit is where the zoning authorities allow a business to operate in an area that is not normally marked for business activities (such as in a residential area). Another example is where a church is allowed to operate in an area otherwise marked for businesses. Special use permits are sometimes called conditional use permits.

When Are Special Use Permits Allowed?

Special use permits may be issued after a careful analysis of several factors, including:

  • The type of land use or building use in question
  • The type of conduct or business operations that will be going on at that location
  • The impact of the activities on the local community, neighborhood, or business complex
  • Whether or not the activities would disrupt the overall theme and purpose of that zone
  • Whether the land use or business operations were in existence before the zoning ordinance was passed

Can a Special Use Permit be Revoked or Overturned?

A special use permit can sometimes be revoked or overturned. This can happen for instance if later analysis shows that the use of the land will actually be in conflict with other laws or zoning ordinances. Permits may sometimes be lost if the holder of the permit commits any violations or abuses the permits in some way.

Alternatively, if the zoning board determines that an ordinance is outdated or is no longer applicable, they may overrule the ordinance itself. This can have larger impacts on the community as a whole. These types of decisions and rulings can be extensive and may require legal action.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Special Use Permit?

Special use permits require much analysis and may involve cooperation and interaction with a local zoning board. You may wish to hire a real estate lawyer if you or your business needs assistance with a special use permit. Your attorney can help you obtain a permit, and can explain what rights you have under local and state laws. Also, if you need to attend a hearing or a court meeting, or if you need to file a lawsuit for damages, your lawyer can be on hand to represent you in court.