Changing Your Land’s Zoning from Residential to Agricultural
Obtaining the perfect piece of land for your agricultural operation is one of the most important aspects of a solid business foundation.
Unfortunately, if your property is not zoned for that particular use, you could find yourself stuck.
Changing your land’s zoning from residential to agricultural may not be an easy process, but depending on your intention, it could be well worth the effort.
The Importance of Zoning
Zoning dictates various land use activities by classification for the purposes of planning and safety. Though zoning types may vary, most municipalities will zone land in the following general categories:
- Recreational, and
There are often subcategories that provide more detailed specifics on how the land can and cannot be used in each zone.
Florida Ag Zoning
Zoned agricultural lands are areas that have been designated by local jurisdictions with the intention to guard farming land use against incompatible non-farming activities.
One of the primary uses of this type of zone is to prevent conflicts between urban and agricultural land use. An ag zoned property does not necessarily have to be used for agricultural operations.
How to Change Zoning from Residential to Agricultural
All requests for rezoning must be processed through the county or municipality where the specific property is located. Before considering changing your land’s zoning from residential to agricultural, you may want to consider speaking to a county planner to determine the likelihood of success given the exact location of the property in relation to other similarly zoned parcels.
You may also choose to employ the help of an agriculture property attorney to help in this process.
Types of Zoning Changes
Rezoning may not be the only option available to you. In some cases, it may be easier to apply for a temporary change to the ag zoning such as a special exception permit or zone variance permit. A variance grants a property owner the legal right to use the property in a way that is contrary to local zoning for that property.
Special exception zoning decisions are often made before the zoning process is completed. The third option is getting the property legally and permanently rezoned.
A zoning variance is granted when a property owner demonstrates an undue hardship. The hardship must exist because of unique circumstances not created by the property owner. Ignorance of the zoning law does not equal hardship.
There are two different types of zoning variances. A use variance allows the property to be used in a way that is prohibited in that zoning district. An area variance provides leniency on dimensional restrictions. This variance is used primarily for height restrictions or setback requirements.
Special Exception or Special Use Permit
A special exception or use permit is applicable when using the property outside of zoning restrictions would adversely affect public health, safety, or any other concerns specified by the county.
Exceptions are only available if specific limitations are set in place and conditions are met to address the concerns.
Counties and municipalities have significant discretion on a rezoning approval. Proposals must follow procedures outlined by each local government. Rezoning typically requires evaluation by local officials such as the city planning commission, agriculture commissioner, and others.
Community members may put pressure on elected officials to confirm or deny the land owner’s application. Rezoning may be considered under certain circumstances which include:
- The original property zoning contained an error or oversight,
- Geographical changes in the surrounding area prevent use of the property under its current zoning, or
- The rezoning request is consistent with the local government’s long-term land use plan.
It is important to have substantial evidence to support the rezoning. Seeking assistance from an experienced Florida property lawyer is a good way to increase your chance of success in changing your land’s zoning from residential to agricultural.
Florida Rezoning Procedures
Speaking to local officials responsible for land management is a great place to start the process. Often, local officials will be able to give you a better understanding of the potential success of an application for ag zoning. An attorney can also help you with this initial step prior to starting the official application process.
The process of changing your land’s zoning from residential to agricultural differs between counties, though most follow similar general guidelines.
First you will need to obtain an application for rezoning from the county or municipality’s zoning office or department. You will also have to pay the application fee.
Review of the Application
Next, the zoning staff will review your application. They will then make a written recommendation to the county board of commissioners.
The community has a right to weigh in on zoning decisions. Public notice is posted in advance of the hearing. The applicant may be required to make a statement about their request or respond to questions from the public and elected officials.
Finally, the board of county commissioners receives the recommendation and renders a decision on the rezoning application. Appeal is unlikely for most decisions.
Should You Hire a Property Lawyer for Ag Zoning?
The rezoning application process alone requires strict attention to detail and the ability to provide a convincing argument that conveys the benefit of rezoning for all parties potentially impacted. Rezoning can also have crucial tax implications that you should consider before making a decision on the specific type of zone you would like your property to be classified as. The worst mistake you could make for your property would be to underestimate the implications of your decision.
Groves Law understands the nuances of Florida property law and can advise you on the best strategy for how to change zoning from residential to agricultural, whether that is through a zoning variance, a special exemption, or rezoning. Contact us today to begin the process of changing your land’s zoning from residential to agricultural, so you can get one important step closer to using your property in a meaningful way.
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