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Are you considering changing the use of a property that you own? Perhaps you have a residential unit that you would like to transform into your office for your new business? Maybe you have a commercial property and a tenant of yours needs to expand the space they are renting?

If you are in a situation such as the above, you would need to apply for a variance with the Board of Zoning and Planning in the town or city in which the property is situated. A variance is essentially an approval from your local Board of Zoning and Planning to modify the zoning of the property. Beware though, that variances can be hard to obtain.

How do I obtain a variance?

In order to obtain a variance, one must be able to prove an unusual hardship. An unusual hardship would prevent one from their ability to use the property in the manner of which the property had originally been zoned. “Indeed, to establish hardship under C.G.S. Section 8-6, the applicant must show not only that he is thwarted in a desired use of the land, but that he is being completely or almost completely deprived of the use or value of that land.” See, e.g., Piccirilo v. Zoning Board of Appeals, 139 Conn. 146, 121 (1952).

The challenge of obtaining a variance protects the original planning of towns and cities, in that, if it were easy to obtain a variance, towns and cities would change drastically over time. Zoning regulations protect property value and integrity. Obtaining a variance almost always requires permission from neighbors, which can prove to be an obstacle if someone objects to your project.

How we can help

If you are considering changing the use of your property, it would be wise to consult with an attorney regarding the desired change in use and how to make a case to your local Board of Zoning and Planning, as it is not an easy task.

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