I served on the Greensboro Zoning Commission for six years, serving as Chair during my last year, and I lost count of the times that a rezoning application and presentation could have been aided by additional preparation by the applicant or by having a knowledgeable advocate who could persuasively make the case that rezoning a piece of property would provide its highest and best use. Applications can fail if those making the decision on a rezoning are not presented with sufficient information to answer their questions about whether a piece of property should be rezoned, whether that be through the application itself or through the ability of an applicant to answer questions at a local zoning meeting.
There is no requirement that an applicant have an attorney present to present their case, but it certainly can help. In my experience on the Greensboro Zoning Commission, cases presented by attorneys were often clearer, containing the information required in the application in a format that was easy to understand (in most cases). In addition, the attorneys were able to address commission member questions and opposition concerns. This is also the case when an attorney represents the opposition to a rezoning application.
Many cases require additional items such as traffic studies. These studies are done by engineers with experience gauging how a particular land use will lead to changes in traffic patterns. In addition, they can suggest infrastructure alterations needed to address an increase in generated vehicle trips. It can be helpful to have the traffic engineer present at the rezoning hearing as they are able to articulate the often-complicated results of their study in a way that both the residents and governing body are able to understand.
While design plans can change and are not binding on whether a change in land use is appropriate, illustrative drawings or site plans can aid the decision maker in visualizing what is contemplated for a particular property should a rezoning be allowed.
Preparation can also help those opposed to a rezoning. Being organized shows the importance of a zoning case to those involved. Additionally, there are often time limits at public hearings for parties to speak or present their case. While the applicant may only have a few individuals speaking on their behalf, the opposition (in certain cases) may have many. It is important for the opposition to be organized and prepared in order to make the best use of their time, which in turn will lead to a more effective argument and presentation.
Often fairly straightforward cases can be tanked by a lack of preparation. If you need assistance with a rezoning or other change in land use application, I can be reached in our Law Firm Carolinas Greensboro office.