If you’re getting ready to buy a business and notice that the property you want to use isn’t zoned correctly, it’s time to stop and look into your legal options before you continue with the purchase. While you may think that correcting zoning would be easy if a business was already functioning the space, the reality is that you may not be grandfathered into being able to use the property in the same way yourself.
Changing zoning in Denver is not always simple. The rezoning process is public, and it can take many months. Sometimes, it takes as long as six months or more depending on how complex your case is, how busy the Planning Board and Denver City Council is at the time and the public hearings that you need to have.
All rezoning requests in your city need to go through the City Council. This is because the process actually changes the city’s official zoning map with a map amendment.
Do you always have to rezone a property that was previously used incorrectly in a district?
Not necessarily, but only if there was an exception given with a zoning permit. For example, a zone district may allow for a grocery store to be located near a residential area, but it may need to have a special zoning permit to do so in specific neighborhoods.
How can you make sure that your zoning request is approved?
There is no way to be certain that it will be approved. This is why many people who want to rezone a property work with an attorney to prepare their rezoning request.
The Denver Planning Board has been transparent about what they expect from rezoning requests. For instance, you will need to show that the rezoning request would further the public health or safety of an area or that it would be consistent with the neighborhood. You should also be able to show that there are circumstances that make the rezoning necessary and justified.
Remember, people do have a right to argue against your rezoning request since this is a public request. All of these complexities are why it’s smart to make sure a commercial property is zoned correctly prior to making a purchase. If not, you may have many months of work ahead of you to correct the zoning of the building.