Every single piece of land inside New Orleans is assigned a zone in the city’s Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. The specific zone a property resides in determines rules on everything from building heights and landscaping to hours of operation and off-street parking availability. Construction projects may run into problems if the proposed building doesn’t meet the requirements of the current zone. Fortunately, there’s still a potential method around that issue by requesting a zoning change.
How to Request a Zoning Change for Your Construction Project
Whether you are building office space, single or multi-family homes, or anything else, having the proper zoning is crucial to avoiding problems that can entirely derail the project. That’s why it’s better to have an attorney’s assistance for acquiring permits and meeting zoning standards before the project begins.
Attempting to change the zoning by yourself can lead to lengthy delays if the paperwork isn’t handled properly. An experienced land use and zoning attorney can walk you through the process and ensure it’s all done right before submission. In some cases, an attorney may also be necessary for filing litigation over the project’s zoning.
The zoning change request process for any New Orleans property involves these specific steps:
- Filling out a land-use request application with your attorney's assistance.
- Filing the application with the New Orleans city planning commission.
- Waiting for the owners of adjoining properties to be notified of the zoning request change if the application is accepted.
- Making your case in front of the city planning commission for why the zoning should be changed to accommodate your project without negatively impacting nearby properties. After this first public hearing, the commission will then give a recommendation on denying or approving the change to the city council.
- Attending a final public hearing where the city council officially approves or denies the change.
Anyone involved with the construction industry knows to expect bureaucratic red tape at some point during a job. Making a zoning change land use request can see a significant time setback if it isn’t handled properly from the beginning for one major reason. Namely, the city planning commission only hears requests on very specific and very limited dates and times.
The commission currently only meets to consider zoning change requests two days a month, and it doesn’t hear any requests at all in November or December. That’s why it is so crucial to ensure the paperwork is handled properly the first time and all the proper information is presented to the commission at your initially appointed public hearing date.
You must also pay a fee to make a zoning change request at all, even if your request is eventually denied. That can become an expensive process, especially for larger properties, so you don’t want to go through it more than once. While the amounts may vary over time as legislative changes are made, as of this writing the fees in New Orleans are:
- $1,000 for any lot under 5,000 square feet
- $2,000 for lots more than 5,000 but under 25,000 square feet
- $3,000 for lots more than 25,000 square feet but under 75,000 square feet
- $4,000 for any lot of a larger size
After making your payment and presenting your case at the hearing, the commission could decide on recommending a full approval to city council, or instead may opt for a modified approval. In that case, you will need to make changes to the request first with your attorney’s help.
Of course, the commission may also recommend that city council denies your request, at which point it is even more crucial to have legal representation. Litigation may be required in cases where the city planning commission or city council denies your request in an arbitrary and capricious manner.
Talk to a Skilled Attorney Before Requesting a New Orleans Zoning Change
Have a question about changing the zoning in your project, or need other help from a construction litigation attorney? Our trial-prepped team is ready to aggressively defend your business and do everything we can to make your project a success. Send the Scott Vicknair Law Firm a message online here or call 504-500-1111 to schedule an appointment.