Finding success in the real estate business is often about recognizing potential. Nearly anyone can see what already exists, but it takes vision to recognize when you can transform an existing building or plot of land into something far more valuable.

Vision isn’t enough, however. You also need zoning and use permits to realize your vision. And the potential troubles with these permits were recently highlighted by the controversy surrounding the approval of a storage building just north of Philadelphia’s City Hall.

What can you do if the city denies your zoning or use permit?

As The Inquirer reported, the developer of the storage building in question had received a zoning permit before the City Council sued to overturn the decision. If the City Council’s suit proves successful, this could leave the developer sitting on land and, possibly, a partially constructed building.

If any of your projects stalled due to sudden zoning restrictions, what options would you have?

  • Appeal: It is possible to appeal a zoning decision. Typically, developers appeal when the city denies their original zoning permit requests. In such cases, you can petition for a zoning variance.
  • Address the concern: You might propose an alternate use or design for the property that would satisfy any new concerns the City Council manages to raise. For example, the developer of the storage building might compromise with the City Council by designing storage with business space to rent along the street.
  • Contest the decision: Especially if your project was properly zoned and then overturned after you’d already started construction, you might hire a lawyer. The developer of the storage building might be able to turn to other laws and statutes.

Finding your way past the obstacles

The important thing is to remember that if the city denies your permit, it’s not always the end of your dream. An experienced real estate attorney may still help you find other ways to realize your vision.