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Do zoning officials favor foreign property developers?

Although zoning laws may sometimes get in the way of a commercial developer's brainstorming and design ideas, they are the law. Yet a recent article suggests that not every property developer may be held to the same standard. 

If that sounds unfair to readers, there's a good reason: A lot of money can be at stake when building projects are restricted or even denied by municipal zoning authorities. The reasons can be various, such as a quota of affordable housing in a neighborhood or a required park or recreational area.

According to a recent article, foreign investors, in particular, may be getting special treatment from local zoning officials. Of course, code violation actions may be brought even against a project that has begun construction. However, the article suggests that such zoning issues may go unenforced against foreign property developers.

The truth is that land use and zoning issues can quickly become complicated. A developer may take a proactive approach, obtaining necessary building permits for its project. However, if issues arise and an adverse decision is issued, an attorney that focuses on real estate may be needed to represent a developer through the administrative appeals process. An attorney can also be a strong advocate in any settlement negotiations, such as proposed rehabilitation or project modifications to comport with local zoning requirements.

Since land use regulations and public policy issues continue to evolve, a commercial developer would be wise to consult with a real estate attorney. A land use and zoning attorney can also help developers respond to regulatory or administrative code inquiries in a strategic and professional manner. 

Source: Urban Futures, "The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities," Oliver Wainwright, Sept. 17, 2014

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