Spot Zoning

Spot Zoning refers to the rezoning of an individual plot of land, where the rezoning benefits the owner of the plot but negatively impacts the surrounding area. It is a pejorative and legally ambiguous term for development that does not mesh with the overall community development plan for a given neighborhood or district. (

In many cases, spot zoning will involve upzoning to a more intensive use, for example a commercial use upzoning in a lower-density residential area. In these cases, the owners of the property will benefit from the rezone, and will not appeal to the courts, while surrounding neighborhood coalitions will appeal. In other cases, spot zoning claims can involve down-zoning, where bulk regulations like height and floor area ratio are reduced in a given zone. In these cases, the owners of the property will normally appeal on the grounds that they have been singled out and lost potential revenue from extensions or other additions to the buildings in the lot. (Land Use Law, Daniel R. Mandelker, 2012) (

Spot zoning has been challenged in district, appellate, and state supreme courts in many states throughout the US. However, spot zoning cases are rarely successful when the owner of the property in question is not the one appealing. In most cases, courts have upheld the decision to rezone a particular lot, stating that there was sufficient collaboration between developers and community boards, or there were some financial or otherwise beneficial outcomes of the rezoning that would positively impact the surrounding community. (

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