If you are a business owner searching the market for commercial real estate, it is critical to be aware of, and understand, the various zoning laws. These laws will impact what you are allowed to do on the property. Therefore, determining the types of activities your business will engage in is also important when looking for commercial property.
What Do Zoning Laws Do?
Under Illinois law, local municipalities can utilize zoning laws (also referred to as zoning ordinances or land use regulations) in order to protect communities and regulate their growth. These laws establish zones of property that can only be used for specific purposes. There are numerous types of zones, including:
2. Commercial, such as retail stores, office buildings, and hotels;Industrial, which involves manufacturing facilities;
3. Agricultural, which are areas designated for farming activities; and
Hence, for example, an individual would be prohibited from opening a manufacturing plant in an area zoned for residential use. However, most real estate, with the exception of single-family homes and lots, can be commercial real estate, as you have probably seen an old building once used for manufacturing changed into office or retail space.
Zoning laws regulate various activities of businesses for numerous reasons, such as ensuring areas receive adequate light, to protect against the risk of fires and to minimize congestion on public streets. Some of the common laws enacted regulate:
1. Noise level;
2. Appearance of the building (such as its height and proximity to other buildings);
3. Whether parking must be provided; and
4. Size, placement, and appearance of signs.
Depending on the type of business, the more or less relevant certain restrictions may be. For instance, the limits on the amount of noise that can be produced likely does not affect a grocery store, but may greatly impact a nightclub. Other regulations, such as those related to the appearance of signs attached to the building, will likely affect any type of commercial use of the property.
The zoning laws make it important for business owners to check their local ordinances to ensure that they will be allowed to perform the types of activities necessary to operate the business. It is important to not simply rely on the activities that the previous tenant or owner conducted because past use is not an indicator that the same future use is permissible. For example, generally speaking, when a new law is passed that prohibits activity, the current occupant is allowed to continue to conduct the activity that is now prohibited (called non-conforming use). However, when a new occupant enters the property, he or she must conform to the law (it is impermissible to continue the nonconforming use).
Real Estate Help
The success of your business can be significantly impacted by leasing or purchasing real property that does not fit with the activities your business needs to conduct. For more information about commercial property, contact a skilled Illinois real estate attorney today. Our firm provides legal representation for individuals in the communities of Inverness, Palatine, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Long Grove, Kenilworth, Riverwoods, Barrington, South Barrington, and Mount Prospect.
About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.