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Case Study:

Grandfathered

The term "grandfathered" has impacts in zoning and land-use.

It means the use or building structure is no longer allowed by the local zoning code. How does this happen? Often it is a change in the area that prompts the zoning to transition from residential to commercial. Then, existing homes can continue to be there but local zoning wouldn't support building a new house in that location.

Other times, it is a business that is no longer wanted. An example of that is "auto repair" in a retail location. That street may have been geared for a number of commercial uses, including auto repair, but then the local zoning was changed to convert the location to be more "upscale."

A few tips to keep in mind:

When a building no longer meets current zoning, it usually can't be substantially upgraded. Example might be an apartment building with more units than allowed. If the plan is to spend significant money for renovations, it pays to learn the exact requirements to meet the city's rules. We've seen rules around a dollar figure, others may be reflects as a percentage of overall value.

When a business no longer meets current zoning, it will be monitored for "continued use" and if it is vacant for more than a specified time period, the city could forbid the business from reopening. If a business has been closed for multiple months, and it is the same type of business planned for that location, be sure to know the rules.

Being prepared and having a plan are key.