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What is a conditional use permit?

The Vancouver municipal zoning code contains many important terms that can be difficult to understand. One of the most important terms is "conditional use permit." Conditional use permits are used to regulate real estate developments that do not fit exactly within the permitted uses allowed in the city zoning code. As the name implies, the City may impose various conditions on a development proposal before an approval is issued.

As stated in the zoning code, a proposed conditional use is reviewed "to determine if such a use is appropriate at the proposed location and, if appropriate, to identify any additional conditions of approval necessary to mitigate potentially adverse impacts." All new conditional use permit applications are classified as a Type III procedure, which means they will be reviewed by a hearings examiner and subject to the approval criteria specified in Chapter 20 of the Zoning Code.

Criteria for approval include providing an adequate area for the proposed use, accommodating the impacts of the use, and accommodating the use and impacts on all public facilities. The hearings examiner can impose conditions that limit hours of operation, require additional setbacks and limitations on building height, require additional plantings and otherwise limit or control the proposed use. Noncompliance with the terms and conditions of a conditional use permit may be grounds for revocation of the permit or imposition of additional conditions.

While conditional use permits may offer only a few additional city regulations, such permits allow uses in areas where they would otherwise be prohibited. An experienced real estate attorney can help a land owner satisfy the required conditions and obtain a permit that allows the proposed project to move ahead.

Source: City of Vancouver, "Vancouver Municipal Code (VMC)," accessed on April 16, 2018

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