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Do you have land you wish to use for a specific purpose, but it’s not zoned for that right now? You can try to have it rezoned, or you can choose to apply for a conditional use permit.

A conditional use permit (CUP) can take quite some time to approve, so you want to be sure you plan ahead. How you go about obtaining one can vary from city to city, but there are similarities.

Are you wondering if a CUP might be a good option for you? Here’s what you need to know, from what they can do to how you can apply for one.

What is a Conditional Use Permit?

A conditional use permit is a zoning exception that allows you to use your property in non-conforming ways. It can be an alternative to applying for rezoning, and it can allow you to use your property in a unique way where rezoning is not possible.

Before you apply for a CUP, make sure you meet the standards that apply in the county in which you own property. For instance, Pasco County requires consistency with the general plan for the surrounding area. They also look for the suitability, adequate access, and public services if these are applicable.

How Do You Get a CUP?

The process of getting a CUP depends on where you are. For instance, in Pasco County where Suncoast Permits is Located, you start by filling out an application and paying a fee. The application gets reviewed within 30 days, and you’ll move to a public hearing.

In other areas, you might call the local zoning authority or have an attorney draft a letter to them on your behalf. The zoning official will explain the process, including forms, notification to surrounding property owners, and fees.

A helpful zoning official can also help you understand what you might face. Many times neighbors will oppose a non-conforming use of the property. At the hearing, you will get to present your case, and any folks that don’t want the change will be able to share their point of view as well.

Once you’re getting ready for your hearing, you need to know what kind of case you should make. Consult with neighbors to the property, community organizations, and even the town council. You can explain to them what you plan to do, and they can share their concerns.

When you’re ready to answer those concerns during the hearing, your case for the CUP will be much stronger.

You’ll also need to show that you have proper space and amenities for the use you plan to implement. You will be asked about parking, access, landscaping and layout, and more.

What are the factors that influence the zoning board’s decision?

There are a variety of factors, and they will vary from state to state and county to county. You can expect the zoning authority to ask you about how the conditional use will affect or alter the neighborhood. You can point out positive impacts, but expect to be challenged about problems that might be created as well.

The zoning board will also look at issues such as:

  • General Welfare – to ensure that the proposed use doesn’t damage public interests or public property
  • Nuisance Concerns – whether the proposed use is likely to cause excessive traffic, noise, odors, dirt, or other problematic features
  • General Plan for the Community – the zoning group will not want to approve any variant that conflicts with the overall direction that the community is moving
  • Zoning Consistency – while you are asking for a zoning variance, you’ll do best if you’re able to prove that the use dovetails with existing zoning laws are helpful to the community