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What Are the Zoning Laws?

I am in ninth grade and am doing a project in my careers class, and I need to know how to find out about zoning laws and permits needed to start an electronics store. Could you help me with this?

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This story appears in the June 2002 issue of Teen Startups.

The best place to start is with your own city, which can tell you what kind of business licenses and permits you need for your particular type of business. Contact your city's business license department to find out how to get a business license, which, for a fee, grants you the right to operate in that city. When you file your application for a license, the city's planning or zoning department will check to make sure your area is zoned for your type of business and that there are enough parking spaces to meet the codes. If you are opening your business in a building that previously housed an electronics store, you are not likely to encounter too many problems.

You cannot operate your business in an area that is not properly zoned for your type of business unless you first obtain a variance, or conditional-use permit. To get a variance, you will need to present your case before the planning commission in your city. In many cases, variances are quite easy to get, as long as you can show that your business will not disrupt the character of the neighborhood where you plan to locate.

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