Complex zoning and permitting issues for businesses and individuals.

We handle zoning variance, building permits, and land use advice for you or your business.

The right to own property does little good unless the owner can use the property as it needs and wants to. Commercial property owners who want to build apartments, hotels, malls, medical facilities, telecommunication businesses, restaurants, and all other businesses, large and small, need to understand the current usage rights, including land usage rights or proscriptions. They need to know what legal remedies are available if the local or state government, or the deeds on file, limit their goals. Residential owners also need to understand their limits and options.

Fortunately, there are remedies in many cases. At Gertsburg Licata, we explain the land use options that apply, which permits are required, and what zoning remedies are possible. One of the more common remedies we seek on behalf of businesses and individual clients is a zoning variance that can grant the property owner the right to areas or land usage that normally wouldn’t apply because of the municipal zoning codes. Our real estate lawyers work to understand your needs, determine whether a variance or other remedy is possible, and process your claim diligently through the appropriate channels.

Types of zoning variances

A variance is essentially a request by a property owner for an exception to the current permitted uses. Some of the key variance factors our attorneys help clients navigate are:

  • Use variances. Generally, zoning is divided into the following five categories:
    • Residential
    • Mixed-residential
    • Commercial
    • Industrial
    • Spatial

Spatial covers shopping malls, power plants, and other large uses. There are subcategories within each of the main categories. The municipal zoning code defines the types of land-use categories and the specific permissible uses for each one. Use variances allow the property owner to use their land for unspecified uses. For example, we may seek to have residential property approved for some commercial usage.

  • Area variances. These types of rules regulate the physical layout of the property. The zoning code may regulate the setback requirements, height specifications, overall lot size, requirements for parking areas, and other important issues.

The rules and procedures for obtaining a use variance are different than those for an area variance. Some of the general issues our attorneys review include:

  • Showing that other property owners have similar variances
  • Not granting the variance would create a hardship, as long as the hardship was not self-imposed
  • The variance will not harm other neighborhood or public welfare interests
  • The variance is needed for the owner’s preservation of the property

Other strategies may be available depending on exactly what you want to do with your property.

Obtaining the necessary building permits

Our lawyers advise clients on many property-related issues, including easements, assessment issues, and eminent domain. One area where we provide extensive legal counsel is obtaining the necessary building permits and conditional use permits so the owner may use the property for construction or other material changes.

A construction or building permit is required in Ohio, and most places, before new construction can begin or construction to add-on to existing structures can start. Major renovations may also require permits. Typically, government officials will inspect the property before granting any permits, during construction, and after the construction is completed. Building permits can involve fire, electricity, habitability, and a broad range of safety issues. Failure to get the proper permits or to meet building code requirements can have consequences, including substantial fines and penalties and even demolition of the unauthorized building.

Our real estate attorneys have the experience to guide builders through the inspection and compliance stages. We review construction proposals, analyze the building code laws, and advocate before the proper forums when needed. We also are adept at the public relation side of building compliance when neighbors dispute the desired construction.

Contact us today to discuss your options

Zoning and building permit applications and procedures require experienced lawyers who are adept at working with government officials and members of the community. At Gertsburg Licata, our real estate attorneys have been helping businesses and individuals for decades. We explain what choices you have when zoning laws and building inspectors try to limit your property options. For help with any type of real-estate land use or land area problem, please call us at (216) 573-6000 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation with a respected attorney.