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The Importance of Knowing Rhode Island Zoning and Permit Laws Before Investing

All residential, commercial, and industrial properties in the state of Rhode Island are subject to zoning and permit requirements. From homeowners seeking to renovate their homes to large industrial developers planning a project worth tens of millions of dollars, anybody seeking to break ground on a construction project may be subject to cumbersome zoning and permit issues. Knowing the basics of Rhode Island construction permits and RI zoning law can help residents of the state know when a possible issue could arise and when to seek compensation advice and representation when proposing development or construction.

Rhode Island’s zoning laws are relatively decentralized, giving towns and cities the ability to set their own requirements for certain types of construction in accordance with the municipalities’ general plans for development and preservation. There are several types of zoning classifications used by municipalities to encourage districts that include the desired type of development based on geography and other factors. Some of the types of zoning in the state include residential, commercial, downtown, waterfront, institutional, industrial, and public recreational properties.

Each of the zoning types may contain additional incentives and restrictions based on further subclassifications. A multi-family townhome may not be permitted on a property zoned for single-family occupancy. If a block is zoned for commercial use, that does not necessarily mean that a ten-story office building can be constructed. Rhode Island residents with questions about the zoning requirements of a certain piece of property can seek out legal advice from a qualified Rhode Island zoning attorney to answer their questions.

Once a proposed construction project meets zoning requirements, permits must be obtained for construction to begin. Permits are used to ensure that a project meets zoning and other construction requirements. Additionally, a permit will provide some confidence that no easements of other property interests exist on the proposed piece of property. When zoning laws are reasonable and permits are issued when requested, the system works well to encourage responsible development.

Unfortunately for many Rhode Island residents, the zoning and permit laws in the state do not always function as intended, and certain desirable projects will be rejected based on zoning or permit requirements. Municipal zoning boards and councils have the authority to issue special use permits to allow for non-compliant structures when the public interest is furthered; however, convincing municipal lawmakers and regulators to make exceptions can be difficult. Approaching a zoning board or municipal council with a variance request can be an intimidating process, with neighboring property owners possibly joining the proceeding to argue against a proposed project.

If you or a loved one is seeking to develop property or modify an existing structure, zoning changes and special permits may be needed for approval to be granted. The qualified Rhode Island real estate attorneys with Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC have experience approaching municipal zoning boards and governing councils to permit our clients’ development and construction projects. With our guidance and support, you can ensure the best chances for your project’s approval and eventual completion. If you have questions about a Rhode Island property law issue, we’re here to help. Call us at 401-300-4055 for a free consultation.

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