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Buying a Business

Avoid Zoning Problems When Buying A Business

When buying a business with a brick-and-mortar location, the local zoning laws must be considered. Zoning ordinances regulate how a property can be used and what types of business operations can be conducted. Violations can result in pricey fines or even forced relocation. Those looking to purchase a business in West Palm Beach should work closely with a Florida business transaction lawyer to better understand these laws and ensure they will be able to continue operating the business in the same location.

Types of Zone Designations

  • Residential — Commercial buildings are not allowed in these types of zones. If the business for sale is located in a residential zone, check whether or not the previous owner was operating legally with a special permit called a variance.
  • CommercialCommercial buildings are allowed and a wide range of business operations are permitted. Offices, retail stores, malls, restaurants, bars, and more can be found in these types of zones.
  • Industrial — Certain businesses and business operations that produce a high level of noise and/or waste, such as manufacturing and warehousing, are designated to these zones.
  • Historical — Typically areas are zoned historic if the building districts are over 50 years old and/or possess historic value. Requirements in these zones can be stricter and major visual and structural changes are prohibited.
  • Esthetic — Mainly found in cities, certain businesses are allowed but buildings have to follow strict visual guidelines from color schemes and signage to landscaping and renovations.
  • Agricultural — Areas designated for farming operations. Non-farming activities are restricted.

Areas can be designated single use zones or multiple use zones. To purchase a business in West Palm Beach located on a property with multiple zone designations can be more complex. Consulting a Florida business transaction lawyer is necessary to avoid zoning problems when buying a business.

Zoning Law Changes & “Variances”

Do not assume that just because the previous owner was able to operate the business in that location, that the new owners will be allowed to do the same. Zoning ordinances can change and areas can be assigned new zone designations. The previous owner could have been operating the business in violation of local zoning laws (sometimes such behavior goes unnoticed by legal authorities) or could have had a variance, a special permit allowing him/her to use the property contrary to its zone designation, which the new owners will have to re-apply for.

Zoning ordinances set other regulations and requirements for things such as renovations, building additions, parking, signage, and more. To prevent costly violations, seek the legal counsel of a knowledgeable Florida business transaction lawyer prior to making any final arrangements to purchase a business.

If you wish to purchase a business in West Palm Beach, we will guide you throughout the buying process to ensure a smooth transaction with few legal setbacks. Call Kelley & Fulton today.