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How should incorrect zoning be addressed?

A Delaware land owner could face the need for assistance with zoning issues for various reasons, especially if there is a realization that the existing zoning is inconsistent with an intended use of a property. Such an issue might arise because of a change in business models. There might be a conflict because of a decision to house certain types of animals on a residential property. A business owner might seek permission to operate from a home in a residential neighborhood. There are several approaches to handling these zoning issues.

Restrictions on the use of property might affect an owner who wants to engage in a non-permitted use. A variance might be sought to obtain the necessary permission without the need to change the zoning for the area in question. The granting of such a request may depend on the owner's ability to show that the current rules make it impractical to use the land in question. Conditional use permits are similar, usually obtained because a use would benefit the public.

A property owner might also seek a permit for a non-conforming use on the basis that the property was being used in a particular manner prior to the enactment of the particular zoning ordinance. In such a case, though, the property owner must normally demonstrate that this use has been ongoing. Eminent domain may be an issue if a zoning change makes it impossible for an owner to use a property effectively.

An owner faced with a zoning restriction that negatively affects a property's ability to be used may be able to bring a claim for compensation. In dealing with such a situation, a lawyer may be helpful in negotiating fair compensation terms.

Source: Findlaw, "Zoning", December 30, 2014

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