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Pennsylvania town rejects zoning change

9/1/2011 | Real Estate Blog

Zoning, or how a property is zoned, can have a tremendous impact on the market value of a piece of Pennsylvania real estate. Broadly, zoning is the way governments regulate the way land can be used. Common zoning classifications of land include commercial, residential and industrial.

The idea behind zoning is to separate uses of land so that landowners’ uses do not interfere with other landowners’ uses of their land. Zoning law is primarily created at the local level. As such, zoning issues are commonly addressed at the local level. Just as economic conditions can change in a community over time, zoning can change to address evolving needs when a local government approves of the change.

However, zoning decisions can be quite contentious. For example, a Hazleton landowner recently lost in his attempt to rezone a one-acre parcel of land from residential to commercial. The landowner wanted the property rezoned from residential to commercial in order to improve the property’s value and to make the land more marketable.

However, the properties around the parcel in question are mainly residential properties. Opponents of the rezoning argued that a change from residential to commercial would amount to illegal “spot zoning,” which means a single property has been singled out and placed in a different zone than the properties surrounding it.

Siding with the opponents, the Hazleton Planning Commission voted 3-0 to reject the change and maintain the current residential classification of the land in question. However, the debate over this piece of land may not be over because landowners have the option of challenging a local zoning decision in the court system.

Source: The Hazleton Standard-Speaker, “City denies zoning change request,” Sam Galski, Aug. 24, 2011