Real estate has been booming for quite some time, and that is true for both the residential and commercial sides of the industry. In Georgia, as in other parts of the country, some properties have had to make changes over the past year or so. For example, many restaurants needed to adapt from indoor to outdoor dining. In order to use a sidewalk or part of a road for tables, businesses may need a special use permit.
Why are permits needed?
Most communities have zoning laws. These restrict the ways real estate can be used. Zoning is an area of real estate law that makes it possible to plan a community in a sense-making way. It can also provide more comfort for residents. For example, areas that are zoned residential are usually meant to be safe for pedestrians and somewhat quiet. It’s unlikely that a community’s zoning laws would allow a noisy factory requiring a rail spur to be built in a residential neighborhood.
However, governments realize that sometimes there’s a reason to allow permission for different users in a particular zone. Outdoor dining is one example. Or, sometimes, people operate businesses out of their homes. Towns and cities sometimes have restrictions on home businesses.
A business in a residential area might attract an unusual number of cars, for example, making the street noisier and harder to cross than usual. But cities might be willing to allow a hairdresser or accountant to see a few clients at their home and grant a special use permit for that purpose.
Other examples of special use permits may include allowing a church to be built in an area that’s zoned for businesses. Or, businesses may need to seek a special use permit if they add another function to their operation. For example, if a hotel wants to add a restaurant that sells liquor, that can require measures like a public hearing and additional permits. Or if a developer wants to build an apartment building with businesses on the ground floor, that may also require a special use permit.