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What is a zoning verification letter and why should ZRG review it?

Updated: Oct 31, 2018

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

Zoning verification letters are prepared by city staff to inform prospective buyers, lenders, or property owners of the zoning laws and regulations associated with a property. While this verification comes from the city, we have reviewed a number of these over the years and often find these letters to be generic in content and clarity. In some of the most unfortunate circumstances, we have reviewed letters that contain incorrect or outdated information.

Our certified zoning analysts know the right questions to ask when requesting these letters from a municipality and know how to navigate the system to ensure the letter includes the correct information you need to keep your project moving forward. Here are three reasons you should always have a 3rd party review your zoning verification letter.

Reason 1: There is a lot at stake

When you undertake a multi-million-dollar real estate deal, you want to have confidence that your property’s zoning information is correct. This will also minimize risk for your investors and can ensure you satisfy lending requirements. Additionally, zoning codes can be updated and changed annually or even more frequently. In the event the property becomes legally non-conforming, you must know exactly how this will affect future use and development of the site. In the hopefully unlikely event of a loss due to fire damage or natural disaster, this could also impact how the property is insured, restored, or converted to another use.

Reason 2: The city is held harmless

These letters are accompanied by fine print which often includes a “hold harmless” clause that absolves the municipality of any responsibility if the information provided is incorrect. This could result in problems for you down the line. Don’t let yourself get too far in the process; utilize a certified ZRG Zoning Analyst to review the letter and confirm (or correct) the information provided to you.

Reason 3: It’s probably prepared by a junior staff member

We find these letters are often executed by the city’s junior staff members. We know these young professionals are willing to take on any task, but they’re also “green” and often times forgetting to fact check as they prepare these essential verification letters. ZRG’s certified zoning analysts will review the verification letter and provide you with correct (and more detailed) information.

If you have questions about how we can help you with your zoning verification, send us an email at: or give us a call at: (253) 203-3152.


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