There are many reasons for building a new heavy duty repair shop. If you’re opening a new business and can’t find an existing spot to move into, you’ll want to build. On the other hand, expanding often benefits established shops. It provides more room, plus a brand-new shop is a good way to attract diesel technicians to work for you. Whatever your reason for building, step one is getting new shop zoning approval. You can’t even break ground unless your city green-lights the project.

What is Zoning?

Zones make up towns. Some are residential, for people to live in. Others are commercial, where the businesses are. City administrations rarely allow businesses to build in residential areas. You may have room in your back yard, or there might be an empty lot next to your house. While that might be convenient for you, it’s not likely that the city will grant new shop zoning approval in a residential neighborhood.

How to Check Zoning

Once you have a piece of ground in mind for building a new shop, you’ll want to check the zoning. Do that even before you purchase the land or contact a builder. It could save you headaches down the road. Construction professionals advise searching the Internet or calling your city’s building department. You can even visit the city offices for a face to face meeting with a building inspector. An in-person visit will reveal if your land is zoned for a diesel repair shop as well as if there are rules that restrict what kind of building you can put up.

New shop zoning approval is usually not necessary for commercial ground.  Then you can skip to getting a building permit. (Exceptions include the city requiring a special use permit even though the land may be zoned commercial already.) The city building department will want to know the dimensions of your building including the width, height, and square footage. This involves submitting blueprints and a building materials list. Other data the city may ask for can include:

  • information on the electrical wiring
  • statistics on snow and wind loads
  • how well your building will resist fire, flood, and high winds

Roadblocks For New Shop Zoning Approval

There are times when a city’s zones are outdated, or they don’t make sense. For instance, two neighborhoods that were once each zoned differently may have expanded and grown together over time. The result would be one side of the street with residential zoning and the other side being commercial. Additionally, some cities don’t update approved construction materials or restrictions on how many stories a building. When zoning regulations interfere with effective business operation, there are things you can do to obtain new shop zoning approval.

First, you can request a variance. City agencies often grant exceptions to the rules. The process is as easy as filling out a form, but sometimes the city council must approve building allowances.

When you reach a dead end for new shop zoning approval, stronger action might be necessary. You can try appealing to the council for a zoning change or even bring a lawsuit. The steps you take depend on how important it is to you to construct a shop in an improperly zoned location.

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