Visitor Question: I am trying to sell my home, but I want to rezone to commercial because of my location. I am surrounded by business. Both neighbors are now turned into commercial property and I am the only one that has not requested to be zoned commercial.
I know that it will be no problem because the county commissioner said it would be easy for me to do. But since I have no experience in selling home and zoning property I am not sure how to write a letter of justification for the zoning change.
I have no intentions to keep property after they approve me. I plan to sell because I will get more money for my property if it is sold as commercial. I just don't know how to put it in writing since I have no plans to what i would do with property after it is zoned commercial. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Editors Answer: The most important point about our answer is that local customs vary considerably in the U.S. In some places, you can be awarded the rezoning based on the comprehensive plan and basic analysis of zoning immediately around you. In other locations, commissioners ask what business will be locating there if the zoning petition is granted, and they balk at rezoning if the petitioner has no answer.
As planners, we like the first approach much more, and this will be more advantageous to you. We like this way of looking at things because specific businesses change anyway, and two years later the commissioners might be looking at a completely different business than the one they thought they were implicitly approving when they did the rezoning.
Also this pure approach to looking at the ideal zoning category, rather than a specific proposal, leads to a more rational and more objective process. Frankly it's less subject to silly neighborhood objections derailing the process too.
So we hope that your commissioners will take this approach.
If you see that they are going to demand to know the specific business that will locate there if they grant the rezoning, you have a bigger problem on your hands. Our advice is to remain honest and civil with them. Explain straightforwardly that you want to do the best you can for your property, as any responsible property owner tries to do. Explain politely that they already have granted rezonings all around you, and that the value of the property for strictly residential purposes probably has diminished because of that past action.
Ask the professional staff, if there is one, to help you with the details of what should be in the letter. They will not write it for you, but they could tell you what information to be sure to include. Believe it or not, they will want to help you because they do not want the commissioners to criticize them because the letter of petition was inadequate or inappropriate.
If there is no staff, you may be able to ask the commissioner who told you this would be no problem to give you some hints.
In brief, we think you should say in your letter that the other properties are zoned commercial, and if commercial uses have been developed on either side of you or across the street, describe those businesses and any impacts that the businesses have on the quiet enjoyment of your home. Describe any other characteristics of your location that make you think your land is best suited to be commercial. Those might be proximity to a major intersection, location on a heavily traveled street, or proximity to other businesses, industries, or large institutions such as colleges or hospitals.
Find out what your comprehensive plan says about the ideal future land use of your property, and if it indicates commercial potential, emphasize that fact. If it indicates residential, point out in the letter that relatively recent rezonings make that impractical.
Don't call any attention to the fact that you will receive more money if you rezone to commercial. They know that, and if your property is known to be for sale already, you won't fool anyone. But don't remind people, as neighbors and activists sometimes get weird if they think someone is going to make an extra buck.
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