As the sole provider of zoning reports prepared by certified professionals, the Zoning Research Group (ZRG) team understands the nuances that go into preparing legally defensible zoning reports. Currently, zoning reports are not required to be prepared by certified professionals, which is why our team of certified land use planners and zoning inspectors takes pride in the fact that we are certified by the American Planning Association (APA) and the International Code Council (ICC), and have established a system of standardization around the zoning report process.
What Is a certified ZRG Zoning Analyst?
ZRG’s certified zoning analysts hold certifications from the APA and ICC. These certifications are an independent verification of ZRG’s expertise as it relates to regulatory codes, standards, and industry best practices. To earn these certifications, our certified zoning analysts passed rigorous exams that evaluated their knowledge, skill, and ethics.
The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certification from the APA is the only nationwide, independent verification of a land use planners’ qualifications, and requires professionals to have a combination of education and experience just to take the exam.
An ICC Zoning Inspector is responsible for the interpretation, administration, and enforcement of local zoning ordinances. This certification proves ZRG’s expertise regarding site and building development, including the conversion, occupancy, use, height, area, parking, and landscaping requirements of a site. Additionally, an ICC Zoning Inspector has in-depth knowledge of the legal and administrative aspects of zoning as well as planned zoning, district, and development regulations.
Our experience working as planning professionals for both municipal and private planning firms, combined with our certifications, provides clients with an elevated and unique level of expertise. This includes simplified reports with detailed information on site development requirements, and well-researched reports that hold municipalities accountable. Our certified zoning analysts are able recognize and extract applicable zoning codes to prepare more simplified reports that clearly define site development requirements such as bulk, area, height, setback, open space, floor-area-ratio, parking, and special-use requirements. ZRG’s insight and expertise also goes beyond literal code interpretations to provide clients with information regarding special approvals such as a conditional approvals or variances, modified parking arrangements, increased setbacks, or buffering from abutting property. These conditional approvals are an important aspect as they may override prescriptive codes mandated by the zoning district.
Finally, having worked as planners for both municipalities and private firms, ZRG’s certified zoning analysts have an unmatched level of expertise. We know what cities are required to provide, and routinely make use of legislative requirements such as the Freedom of Information Act or Public Disclosure Request to ensure they provide the information necessary for us to provide accurate and legally defensible zoning reports. This expertise is only gained through years of experience and is proven with the certifications we have earned.
Our Approach – A Standardized Report
ZRG’s approach has been refined into a formalized system that standardizes the zoning report process. This refined system is valuable to our clients for several reasons. First, every local zoning code is different, and our standardized system provides a foundation and outline for our analysts to conduct their research.
Additionally, zoning codes often use terms synonymously, when in fact they mean something quite different. For example, the term “buffer” is similar to a “setback” and is frequently used interchangeably. We have seen codes that required a 20-foot landscape buffer, or a 30-foot non-landscaped buffer alongside a property’s yard to separate it from neighboring residential uses, yet the side yard setback was only five feet, making it difficult to determine the building’s footprint. To overcome and clarify this confusion, ZRG’s certified zoning analysist reviewed and analyzed the code along with the site and its surroundings to determine the correct perimeter and confirm that the building and site was compliant.
Finally, ZRG’s reports are easy-to-navigate and organized so clients have summarized information that makes for an easy reference. ZRG’s reports include both tabled data and supporting narrative explanations making reports easily understood and utilized by all parties involved.
A Comprehensive Understanding
Zoning Reports are a crucial and necessary component of any large real estate transaction. As certified professionals, our ZRG Zoning Analysts are the only analysts in our industry that must hold a certification and bring the most comprehensive understanding of what is required for each zoning report.
To learn more about the different reports we offer, visit our Services page.