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Zoning codes may hinder your business plan

If you are starting a small business, you have many things to consider. You may be working out the terms of a partnership agreement, planning your marketing strategies, and dealing with taxes and other legal issues. You may also be looking to purchase commercial real estate that is appropriate for your type of business.

It is not always easy to find a place that will provide the most effective exposure of your business, parking for your clients and the kinds of amenities that will draw customers to your doors. In addition to all these considerations, you will have to understand the zoning of the property you plan to purchase. You may find the perfect lot or building for your needs, but if it does not have the right zoning, are you willing to challenge the municipality's decision?

Common zoning restrictions

Zoning provides many benefits. It allows for consistency in land uses and protects the property owners and residents in the area. Commercial properties are often separate from residential areas, so if you propose to open your business in a residentially zoned area, you may have to seek permission from the Florida municipality in question. In addition to segregating the types of land uses, zoning ordinances may place limits on the following items that relate to commercial ventures:

  • Where you may build on the property
  • How high you can construct your building
  • How much green space that your property may preserve
  • How many structures you can place inside a certain area
  • How you may use the property
  • What type of business you may establish in certain areas
  • What environmental protections are in place for the property
  • Limitations on the type and size of signage and advertising you may install on the property

If the property you are looking at is historical, you may have even more severe restrictions on the use and adaptation of a building on the property.

Dealing with zoning conflicts

Even if you plan to run your business from your home, you may deal with zoning regulations. For example, some ordinances may forbid home-based businesses that have customers coming on site, such as a private medical or accounting practice.

It is critical that you understand the zoning where you plan to put your business. If there is a conflict, you may have success seeking a variance, which makes an exception in certain cases. This is not always easy, and you may benefit from the assistance of an attorney with experience in zoning and land use disputes.

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Barker Cook

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Tampa, FL 33602

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