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In the Zone: Maryland Business Locations and Zoning Laws

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2014 | Business Law, real estate

Real estate agents like to say, ‘location, location, location!’  Finding a location or office space that is perfect for your business can be challenging and rewarding.   A location that perfectly matches a business’s offerings and is convenient for the clientele can add to the appeal of the business itself.

Before moving in and setting up shop it is very important to review local zoning ordinances and regulations when considering a business site or expanding an existing one. Here, the Maryland real estate and zoning attorneys at Snee, Lutche, Helmlinger & Spielberger discuss zoning laws across Maryland and how to make sure you’re thoroughly versed in your options before moving forward.

Zoning Laws Across Maryland Can Be Complex

Things are not always as they appear when it comes to zoning law. Many long standing businesses have been “grandfathered” into a particular location before a zoning law was in place.  The property owner may even assure an interested party that their operations will not violate local zoning ordinances.  However, it is not safe to assume that a similar business, or any business for that matter, can take over the location when the old business moves out.  Never rely solely on the representation of the sellers or their agents on the zoning status of a property or the surrounding uses.

Zoning laws are not Maryland state laws.  Zoning laws are both decided and enforced by local governments.  Although there are similarities, every local municipality has its own zoning rules.  All businesses are subject to the unique jurisdiction of the local zoning laws.Most jurisdictions require that businesses obtain a zoning certificate from the local government before constructing a new building or expanding an existing facility.  Businesses that fail to complete this step may end up losing a lot of money.  It is not uncommon that a business owner heavily invests in a project only to find out that they chose a location where the zoning law doesn’t permit what they do.

How to Ensure You Remain Compliant with Zoning Laws

A quick call to the local government authority typically does not suffice as an adequate approval.  Often the Department of Planning and Zoning will discover the exact nature of the project and deem it in violation of zoning laws. This can ultimately prevent companies from using the property, making the expansion, or adding the necessary equipment. Business owners should not only chose a location that is currently in compliance with local zoning ordinances, but one that will also be compliant for any future operations or business expansions they plan.

All of a property’s proposed uses should be considered as even the smallest of details can offset zoning compliance.  For example, outside storage for hazardous materials at manufacturing facilities may require special permits from government regulators.  Depending on location, some businesses cannot obtain the required permits.

See How SLH Can Assist You in Zoning Laws

A SLH lawyer can assist owners and tenants in filing an application with local planning and zoning departments to ensure that this authority has had an adequate amount of time to review all information and make a final approval.  Also, we will perform due diligence on the property along with other professionals such as engineers, environmental planners and traffic consultants.

In addition to determining how the property is zoned, due diligence ensures that the new tenant is not inheriting any legal hassles, such as liens on the property or prior zoning violations. It is important for business owners to consult with legal counsel to determine how a property is zoned before investing too much time, resources and capital into a project that could be in violation of zoning codes. To learn more and see how our team can help you, click here: