How the Rezoning Process Works in Most Jurisdictions

In most jurisdictions, rezoning is a quasi-legal process that requires the approval of locally elected officials, such as town council members, city council members, aldermen, and county commissioners or supervisors. And this is why often rezoning requests can become highly politicized. Most planning and zoning committees, commissions, and boards are composed of a chairperson, who is an elected official, and members, who are local citizens appointed by elected officials. A property owner or petitioner submits a rezoning application to the planning or zoning agency, who reviews the application and passes their recommendations along to the elected officials, who have the final say in the matter. The elected officials then hold public hearings during which all interested parties can be heard before a final vote on the rezoning request is taken. But getting a rezoning request approved is often not easy, and it can end up being a long and arduous process. The rezoning application review process is usually very cumbersome and often requires input from numerous local government agencies. In some jurisdictions, it can take up to four months between the time a rezoning application is filed and when it is placed on the planning or zoning agency's agenda to be heard at from one to three public meetings. To learn all of the details of how the zoning process works in your area, log on to the local government's web site and look under planning, zoning, or land use. To see the actual rezoning approval process in action, attend a public rezoning hearing in person or, if available, watch one on local public access cable television. In most areas, the rezoning process is composed of the following steps:

Step 1: Meet with planning or zoning agency staff members to have your application reviewed.

Step 2: Submit a completed rezoning application that includes an affidavit to authorize the agent form bearing the notarized signature of the property owner, and pay the applicable rezoning application fee.

Step 3: Send written notification of the rezoning request to all the surrounding property owners.

Step 4: Make a rezoning presentation before the local planning or zoning hearing master.

Step 5: The planning or zoning hearing master makes a recommendation on the rezoning request to the local governing body where the property is located.

Step 6: Attend one or more public hearings in front of elected officials and planning or zoning agency staff members, during which public comments are heard and staff members make recommendations to elected officials.

Step 7: Attend a final public hearing in front of elected officials before they take a final vote to approve or deny your rezoning application.

For further information on planning, land use, and zoning, log on to the following web site: www.plannersweb.com.

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