Zoning codes regulate the size, location, and use of structures within defined areas. In the event that an individual wishes to deviate from a regulation, he or she must apply to the relevant governing body for a variance, to change the particular zoning code.
Since zoning laws vary from state to state, and even among municipalities, the procedures for applying for a variance differ depending on jurisdiction. Gated communities and homeowner's associations may also have additional ordinances that need to be considered.
The procedures for obtaining a variance may include obtaining permission from the local governing board, holding a public hearing, making an appearance before the local planning commission, and/or obtaining permission from your neighbors. In general, the applicant must show a need to deviate from the zoning code, and that their variance will not adversely affect the property values of their neighbors.
In some cases, an individual may wish to apply to the relevant governing body to have the zoning laws amended. Examples of zoning law changes include redefining zoning boundaries, or changing a particular area from residential to commercial. Just as with variances, the applicant must show a need for the change, and that the change will not adversely affect the neighborhood.
If you have a zoning problem or question a real estate attorney in your area can help familiarize you with the local zoning requirements and advise you on your legal options. Remember that zoning laws may greatly affect the value of your property.