Zoning is the single biggest determinant of value to any parcel of land. While too many people are quick to quote “ Location, Location, Location”, those in the know realize that the reality of a property’s value is “Zoning, Zoning, Zoning”.
A large part of our consulting practice is working with landowners to obtain the zoning required for a desired use, prior to or consecutive with marketing the land to the development community. We work closely with recognized land use counsel experts in the specific county to argue the merits for up-zoning our client’s property. Outside of the typical re-zoning cycle, a property in Maryland can only be re-zoned if the owner is able to demonstrate that the current zoning is no longer applicable because of a change or mistake.
The “Change” Argument
Normally, this is the path we prefer to travel. One needs to demonstrate that the current county zoning is no longer applicable because the area has changed so drastically that original intention for the property to be zoned with the given classification has changed.
- A property originally zoned “Agriculture” when an adjacent property has recently been development for a business park.
- A single family zoned property next to a mixed-use apartment and retail complex.
- A large lot well – septic single family zoned property that is now about to be serviced by public utilities.
- A vacant industrial site that should be redeveloped into a business park.
- A property zoned “residential” that now fronts a new multi-lane road capable of supporting “retail development.
The “Mistake” Argument
Under most circumstances this is a difficult argument to win unless the facts clearly support the argument. The “Mistake” approach is simply to convince the planning and zoning authorities that the subject property should have been zoned for the intended purpose except for a mistake or oversight by the planning and zoning authorities.
- A property adjacent to an apartment project but zoned for agriculture only because the planning and zoning authorities didn't see that the subject property wasn't included in the up-zoning application for the adjacent property.
- A large area of property containing many parcels was up-zoned from low density residential to “office” but the property closest to the road was zoned by mistake to high density residential.