Lobbying Advice for Business Owners

Lobbying for Zoning and Land Use Changes

Business owners can use lobbying to achieve any number of objectives at the municipal level including lobbying local authorities for zoning and land use changes.

Land use is a significant issue for business owners.

Like it or not, government authorities (usually municipal) control the how land is used through the enforcement of local zoning laws and other legislative mechanisms. It's possible to own a large piece of property that meets all of the business criteria for a retail space or office park, only to have your plans scuttled by the seemingly petty wheels of local government.

Fortunately, the existence of zoning laws may not be the final word on the allowed use of a specific piece of property. Landowners have the right to prosecute their cause with government officials and seek an exception (or variance) to land use restrictions. Although land use changes aren't uncommon, government officials normally need to be persuaded to see things from the landowner's point of view.

That's where lobbying comes in. Land use lobbyists specialize in influencing government officials to consider zoning and land use changes. If your business has a zoning problem, a lobbyist could be your best option for a speedy and positive resolution.

Why lobby for land use?

Lobbying efforts for land use issues focus on three primary land use decisions: Rezoning (changes to existing zoning ordinances), Conditional use (uses subject to special permissions or government allowances), and Variances (a clear exception to existing zoning laws). Professional lobbyists can help landowners determine which decision to target, based on the landowner's needs and the likelihood of success.

Who hires land use lobbyists?

In theory, any landowner can hire a lobbyist for zoning and land use changes. But in practice, the majority of clients are businesses with a financial stake in the outcome of the land use decision. However, many colleges and universities also employ lobbyists since post-secondary institutions tend to have large landholdings and more than their fair share of zoning issues.

What do land use lobbyists do?

Contract lobbyists work with landowners to influence the land use decision-making process. You can expect a land use lobbyist to provide access to targeted government officials and to advocate for your interests. But land use lobbyists also advise and inform landowners about land use topics and complete paperwork to streamline the process. In some municipalities, government officials even consult with land use lobbyists about the decision-making process and zoning issues.

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