Different Types of Zoning Permits

Conditional Use Approval

Conditional Use Approval is the permission to use or develop a piece of land in a way that is not mentioned in the zoning code or land use ordinance, so long as the owner or developer meets  certain criteria, or ‘conditions’. Conditional uses permits are zoning permits that either: create a set of restrictions or 'conditions' that are above and beyond what is typically required in a given zoning ordinance, or includes allowances/approval for a non-compliant land use in a zoning district as long as it meets certain criteria.

To find out more, visit the article on Conditional Use Approvals

Substantive Validity Challenges

A substantive validity challenge is a challenge to an aspect of a zoning ordinance, in the hopes of that aspect being changed or eliminated. This may happen when someone believes it was improperly put in place, lacks a rational basis, or assumes a power not exercisable by the governing body. The result of a successful challenge is typically either the elimination of that particular aspect, or the adoption of a change or curative amendment.

To find out more, visit the article on Substantive Validity Challenges

Special Exceptions

A special exception is a type of land use zoning permit in which the owner or developer wants to create a project that that is not specifically listed as a permitted or ‘by-right’ use in the ordinance. This occurs with development that is new to a community, and may not have been in mind when the ordinance was drafted. These new uses are then listed separately as approved uses in the zoning code.

To find out more, visit the article on Special Exceptions


A zoning variance is a type of land use permit required for a developer to use or build their property that does not meet the requirements of the zoning ordinance. Variances are a type of zoning approval that is accompanied by a public hearing.

To find out more, visit the article on Variances

Permitted Use

A zoning permit for ‘permitted use’, or ‘by-right’ development, is a permit granted for development that conforms to all aspects of a zoning ordinance. This means that the type of activity the project will create already falls under the allowable land uses for that zone and requires no additional or supplementary approvals.

To find out more, visit the article on Permitted Use

Curative Amendment

A curative amendment is a challenge to an existing zoning ordinance. The basis for a curative amendment challenge is that the existing code is invalid and should be changed because it does not meet the legal standards that all code must meet. This may happen if a zoning code does not provide for a particular land use, or if it overly restricts a land use.  It differs from a substantive validity challenge because a curative amendment also includes a proposed submission for amended language that would fix or 'cure' the problematic language. 

To find out more, visit the article onCurative Amendment

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