“No zoning restrictions” may sound ideal to many land owners, developers or builders. But, there are pros and cons to consider, as well as a simple step you can take to protect your investment or project.

Developing land in the county where there are no zoning restrictions can have a lot of positive benefits for your project. In other words, you might be able to build a warehouse or an apartment complex and as long as you adhere to the required setbacks, environmental regulations, etc., you don’t have to go through as stringent of a process.

Something to keep in mind though, there’s a lot of inherent risk with this. For example, Houston, TX is one of the only, if not the only, large metropolitan markets in the country that does not have a city-wide zoning ordinance. So, you might be able to build a skyscraper right next to a residential subdivision. So, again, there are a lot of risks with this. Because, if you think about it, if you’re building a certain product type, let’s say an apartment complex, and you’re building in an area that doesn’t have zoning, what’s keeping other competitors from coming in and building right next to you? So, there really isn’t a limit on controlling supply, if you will.

Another risk, what if you’re doing a residential subdivision in the county and a company comes in and builds a commercial slaughterhouse or a commercial feed lot right next to your project. Do you think that will impact your ability to sell residential lots? Absolutely, right?

One way to insulate yourself and protect yourself as much as possible when developing in an area that doesn’t have zoning is by conducting what’s called an open records request. This is where you reach out to the governing body for that area where the property is, whether it’s a city or county, and you can request to get publicly available information to see if any other company or entity has filed a building permit for, like i said, a commercial slaughterhouse or a commercial feed lot. This is a great way to help insulate yourself and protect your project. A city or county by law is required to respond to you within two weeks if it is publicly available information.

Feel free to reach out to us with questions or other topics you’d like to see covered.

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