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Why are zoning regulations used?

When deciding how to use a piece of property, you must consider how it has been zoned by the city. There are a few different types of zones, but the most common are residential zones and commercial zones. In some cases, you can find buildings that have been zoned for mixed use.

So, why are there these regulations? Why can't you do anything you want with a building that you own?

One reason is to make sure that property values are stable. Mixing buildings tends to drag the values down since the properties may not be truly comparable.

For example, a $500,000 home may retain its value in a well-kept neighborhood with other homes between $400,000 and $600,000. If you took those homes out and dropped in gas stations and convenience stores, though, the value could plummet. The home still has the same amount of floor space, the same number of bedrooms, and all the same amenities, but it's less attractive to buyers who want a quiet neighborhood, not a high-traffic commercial area.

There are some options if you want to use a building in a way that it has not been zoned. You can ask the city for a variance. If granted, this does not change the actual zone at all, but it means that your specific building can break the regulations and be used as a residential or commercial building within the opposite zone.

Always make sure you look at the zone prior to purchasing a property in Michigan to find out what you're legally allowed to do and what future steps -- like applying for a variance -- may need to be taken.

Source: The Balance, "What is a Variance? How Do I Get a Zoning Variance?," Jean Murray, accessed Sep. 27, 2016

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