Commercial developments may be slowed by zoning ordinances

When it comes to commercial development there are many matters that might need to be addressed. Exactly what developers of the project will need to deal with depends on the specific project. Currently, a non-profit, faith-based group, seeking to convert a rectory into a transitional housing facility for alcohol addiction in Worcester, is dealing with a zoning ordinance pertaining to parking.

Worcester’s zoning ordinance requires that the transitional housing facility have at least 15 off-street parking spaces for its planned 30-beds. Believing that it will be impossible to have more than five parking spaces on the property, Opening Heaven’s Door Ministries Inc. recently went before the Zoning Board of Appeals seeking relief from the off-street parking requirements put in place by the city.

The organization ran into issues in front of the ZBA however, due to its inability to provide an engineered site plan that supported the claim. According to the non-profit, the lack of the site plan is due to financing issues. It costs $500 to have the plans drawn up by an engineer.

While the organization has received a grant from the state to help finance the project, as well as loan approval from a bank, the bank will not release the funding until a special permit that indicates a lodging house can be operated on the property, is obtained from the ZBA. Additionally, the non-profit does not want to accept donations offered by individuals until it officially owns the property. It currently has a purchase agreement in place.

While the non-profit stated that residents of the facility will not be able to have vehicles, the ZBA indicated that proof that the facility, which is located in a highly congested neighborhood, needs relief from the 10 parking spaces, is necessary before it can be granted.

How this matter will be resolved remains to be seen. It is a good example of how a seemingly simple matter can quickly become complicated and require the assistance of a lawyer who is well versed in commercial property matters such as zoning.