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What Is a Conditional Use Permit?

If you are considering the purchase or lease, of real property, one of the many factors you should consider when making a decision is how the land is zoned. Zoning, after all, determines how the land can be used. If you plan to open a business, for instance, you do not want to purchase or lease land zoned as agricultural or residential use. If the land you are interested in is not zoned for your intended use all is not necessarily lost though. A Conditional Use Permit may be the solution.

The purpose of zoning ordinances is typically for a municipality to control the use of land in order to avoid unwanted uses. For example, all the property values in a middle class residential neighborhood will typically plummet if a factory or adult book store suddenly opens up shop in the neighborhood. To prevent this, zoning standards are created and enforced. Though there are numerous sub-divisions, the four basic types of zoning are agricultural, industrial, commercial and residential. If you wish to use a property in a way that is not currently allowed by the property’s present zoning classification you have three basic options – change the zoning, obtain a variance, or petition for a conditional use permit. As a general rule, obtaining a conditional use permit is the easiest of the three options.

A conditional use allows the city, or municipality, to consider uses for land that are not currently allowed under the land’s present zoning classification but which may be considered desirable or even essential. For example, if a property is currently zoned as single family residential but the property owner wishes to use the property as a foster home for children, the city might consider that use to be desirable and therefore grant a conditional use permit. Unlike a request for a variance wherein the land owner can ask for any change in zoning he/she wishes, a conditional use permit can only be requested for specific uses that have already been pre-determined by the city. In other words, the city decides ahead of time what types of uses might be allowed on the land.

Although the process will vary somewhat by area, the procedure for obtaining a conditional use permit starts by submitting a petition or request with the zoning authority. The request must include site plans, detailed drawings, photos, and any other relevant documentation. The request will then be considered at the next public hearing.

If you believe you need a conditional use permit, contact an experienced Conshohocken, Pennsylvania real estate law attorney as soon as possible to discuss how to go about obtaining a permit. Contact the real estate law attorneys at Curley & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819 today to schedule your free consultation.