Zoning – What Commercial Property Owners Need to Know

commercial real estate lawyer in Lafayette IN

Kevin J. Riley

Posted by Kevin J. Riley, on September 1, 2016

Zoning – What Commercial Property Owners Need to Know

Prior to buying commercial property, a prospective purchaser should become familiar with the zoning laws and restrictions applicable to the property.  At RTS, we provide zoning and land-use counsel to clients looking to purchase, develop, and/or sell commercial property throughout the State of Indiana. Whether you are looking to purchase property and have questions about the property’s zoning regulations or need assistance with rezoning real estate, our experienced attorneys are prepared to review documents, prepare necessary filings, attend public hearings, and offer counsel and guidance. This post will address what zoning is and how zoning laws may affect commercial property.   

What is zoning?

Zoning is the method that counties, cities, and towns use to control the development and use of land within their jurisdiction.  Typically, zoning ordinances are adopted that establish zones within which land in the jurisdiction is classified.  The zones often include, but are not limited to, commercial, residential, industrial, and agricultural zones.  Each zone is governed by specific development and use regulations that may differ from those of other zones.

How does zoning affect commercial property owners?

As mentioned above, zoning laws affect the uses allowed for a particular property.  Zoning laws may also include developmental requirements such as minimum setbacks, height restrictions, minimum lot sizes, and parking requirements. These factors may be of particular importance if land has yet to be developed or if a property owner plans to make changes to an existing building.

The following are just a couple of examples of how failing to understand zoning laws can be problematic for commercial property owners:

  • An owner may wish to develop an empty lot for a strip mall or retail space. However, if this lot is located in a residential zone, the applicable zoning ordinance may prohibit such development, meaning the owner will not be permitted to use the property for his or her intended purpose.
  • A buyer purchases a building in Lafayette to operate a restaurant without drive-in service.  The building has a total gross floor area of 5,000 square feet.  However, the site only has twenty (20) parking spaces.  The zoning ordinance requires one (1) parking space per 100 square feet of gross floor area meaning that the site has thirty (30) less parking spaces than need for the intended use.  Without a variance, the site contains insufficient parking spaces for the intended use.

For these reasons, investors, owners, and developers would be well-advised to consult an attorney before purchasing, developing, or redeveloping commercial property.

RTS offers zoning counsel.

At RTS, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to advise clients about the zoning regulations applicable to the property that they own or are looking to purchase and, where required, represent and guide them through the process of rezoning property.

**Reiling Teder & Schrier, LLC is an Indiana Limited Liability Company. The information contained in this website has been prepared by Reiling Teder & Schrier, LLC for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon to make any decision, legal or otherwise. If you have any specific questions or inquiries regarding any of the information contained in this website, you should consult with an attorney licensed in your state. The information contained in this website pertains only to matters of Indiana law and the laws of other states may be completely different from the laws of the State of Indiana.