Occasionally, planning boards or commissions are faced with a petitioner’s request to re-zone property only to be challenged with an objector’s claim that doing so would constitute illegal spot zoning. The plan commission often has a quandary; approve the development and risk making an improper, if not illegal decision, or deny the development which would have financially improved the community. To better assist with this difficult decision, it is beneficial for the commission to understand exactly what “spot zoning” is.
Spot zoning is, in fact, often thought of as the very antithesis of plan zoning. 2 When considering spot zoning, courts will generally determine whether the zoning relates to the compatibility of the zoning of surrounding uses. Other factors may include; the characteristics of the land, the size of the parcel, and the degree of the “public benefit.” Perhaps the most important criteria in determining spot zoning is the extent to which the disputed zoning is consistent with the municipality’s comprehensive plan.
Counties and municipalities both adopt comprehensive plans for the purposes of stating their long term planning objectives, and addressing the needs of the community in one comprehensive document that can be referred to in making many zoning decisions over time.
Comprehensive plans also typically map out the types (and locations) of future land use patterns which the municipality (or county) would like see -- again, these provide guidance for changes in the zoning ordinance and
zoning district maps.
The key point: rezonings should be consistent with the policies and land use designations set out in the
Importantly, each claim of spot zoning must be considered based upon its own factual scenario. Indeed, some courts engage in a cost/benefit analysis to determine whether the challenged zoning is spot zoning.
Although courts often find spot zoning where the challenged zone is surrounded by other incompatible zones, spot zoning is less likely to occur when the rezoning has “slopped over” by the extension of the perimeter of an existing zone to include the rezoned area.
Additionally, improper spot zoning is less likely when the disputed area is characterized by mixed uses or transitional areas. In other words, spot zoning is more frequently found in residential than in commercial neighborhoods. When holding that spot zoning is invalid, some courts will couch their ruling in in terms of substantive due process -- in other words, that the rezoning was not “reasonably related” to a legitimate state interest. Other courts will frame a ruling upon equal protection principles. Regardless, when courts declare such rezoning invalid they must base their declaration on: (1) the lack of connection of the rezoning to a legitimate power or purpose; (2) the lack of the rezoning’s conformity to the comprehensive plan; or (3) the rezoning’s representing an unreasonable inequality in the treatment of similarly situated lands.
Countering Spot Zoning
Spot zoning, however, may be countered when the challenged zoning is found to be consistent with a municipality’s recent zoning trends in the area, not just with the present surrounding uses. To illustrate the importance that each factual scenario must be closely addressed, rather than merely labeled, it should be noted that one Illinois court found that the rezoning of small parcels inconsistent with the zoning of surrounding areas is not necessarily unlawful. The size of a parcel is just one factor to be considered in determining spot zoning.
A claim of spot zoning may also lack merit, for instance, when the zoning or planning regulations consider the boundaries of the property in dispute to contain a line of demarcation between zoning districts which would appropriately separate one zoning district from another.
Most importantly though, if the zoning is enacted in accordance with a comprehensive plan, it is typically not “spot zoning.”
*excerpted from :PlannersWeb.com*
There's a brief lesson in Zoning and Spot Zoning above - and you may be there wondering
"Why all the Hullabaloo?"
This was a HUGE issue in Colorado and Michigan back in 2011-2013, and many issues still continue today in multitudes of states. We as an industry in Florida must be PROACTIVE within our communities and work diligently to avoid these situations. Making legal errors in these areas is vastly expensive and time consuming, and many times the cost of all of that lands on the patients through upped product costs, delay or services if not entire loss, and complete upset and unrest within the community.
Let's talk about Boulder Colorado - March - 2012
District Attorney Stan Garnett addresses Attorney General John Walsh regarding the zoning of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries.
See letters below
Once you have absorbed the content of these letters you will start to recognize the importance of understanding Spot Zoning, and not allowing it to happen.
In addition, it is imperative to ensure cannabis business locations not be located by schools, daycares, boys and girls clubs, and public parks. Once a business is located and licensed, it is important to ensure the previously mentioned schools, etc. not be allowed to license a location within the parameters and drive a dispensary out of a location or cause a local fight.
Please see Denver Westword story regarding issue HERE
Below, we close with a Public Policy Brief presented by Michigan State University Extension.
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Hiedi & Irv