By: Rand Campbell
Zoning laws control land development by restricting the type of use allowed on a particular parcel of land. There are different zone classifications for different types of uses, such as residential, commercial, industrial, or agricultural. Each zone classification has additional restrictions which can range from lot size requirements to building height restrictions. For example, in some residential zones single family dwellings might be allowed, but other residential uses, such as multi-family dwellings, may be limited.
Sometimes local governments or private property owners attempt to change the zoning of a piece of property. When this happens, it is referred to as a "zone change" or sometimes "rezone". Both property owners and local governments may initiate a rezone.
Counties and cities do periodic reviews and may rezone large swaths of land through that process. And private property owners, using local government procedures, might apply for a zone change specific to only one piece of property.
For property owners, a zone change can be beneficial if current zoning restricts the type of development that is desired. For example, a landowner may apply for a plan amendment to rezone their land from residential to commercial, therefore allowing the land to be developed into businesses instead of homes.
However, zone changes are not easy to obtain. In most cases, the underlying comprehensive plan designation will also have to be amended. Accordingly, most zone changes are considered post acknowledgment plan amendments (or a PAPA for short) and require the involvement of the state. And zone changes only become more complicated when resource lands, like EFU and forest zones, are involved.
It is advisable to consult with an experienced land use attorney before applying for a zone change.
Rand Campbell is a law student at Willamette Law. When he graduates in 2019, Rand is interested in practicing land use law in Central and Eastern Oregon. After serving as an extern for the firm this past summer, Rand is now working for Van Vactor Law LLC as law clerk.
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