Go to Homepage
Board of Zoning Appeals


Milwaukee Board of Zoning Appeals Lawyers

Real Estate Attorneys for Zoning Laws, Variances, and Related Issues in Milwaukee, WI

Zoning and land use laws can play a crucial role in ensuring that a business can operate in a certain area. In some cases, business owners may wish to obtain permits to operate in certain areas, and their requests may be denied based on these laws. However, these denials are not necessarily the end of the road, and it may be possible to appeal these decisions through the Board of Zoning Appeals.

When it comes to matters reviewed by the Board of Zoning Appeals, having experienced legal representation is crucial. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, our skilled attorneys can provide guidance to help Milwaukee business owners and property owners navigate the complex world of zoning laws, and we can help ensure that appeals will be handled correctly.

Zoning Laws and Regulations

Zoning laws are regulations put in place by local governments to control land use within their jurisdictions. These laws divide areas into different zones or districts, each with its own set of permitted uses, building requirements, and restrictions. The purpose of zoning is to promote orderly development, protect property values, ensure public safety, and maintain the character of neighborhoods.

However, there may be instances where strict adherence to these zoning regulations would cause undue hardship for business owners or prevent property owners from fully utilizing properties. In such cases, they may seek relief through variances or special use permits.


A variance is an exception granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals that allows a property owner to deviate from certain provisions outlined in the zoning code. To obtain a variance, applicants must demonstrate that strict compliance with the code would result in unnecessary hardship due to unique circumstances specific to their property.

  • The burden falls on the applicant to prove that the criteria for granting a variance have been met. These criteria may include:
  • The requested variance will preserve the intent and purpose of the regulations that had been put in place in a certain district.
  • The requested variance is necessary to preserve the rights of a property owner and others who own properties in the same district.
  • The requested variance will not create any detriment or harm to neighboring properties.
  • There are exceptional circumstances that apply to the property in question that generally do not affect other properties in the same district.
  • Compliance with zoning laws would create unreasonable hardship and prevent a property owner from using the property for a permitted purpose.

Our attorneys have extensive experience presenting compelling evidence and arguments to support variance requests. We will work closely with business and property owners to gather all necessary documentation, such as surveys, expert opinions, and other relevant information to build a strong case for a variance application.

Special Use Permits

A special use permit allows property owners to use their land or buildings in a way that is not typically permitted within the zoning district. These uses are considered "special" because they may require additional scrutiny due to potential impacts on surrounding properties or the community at large.

To obtain a special use permit, applicants must demonstrate that their proposed use meets specific criteria outlined in the zoning code. This often involves showing that the proposed use will not adversely affect neighboring properties or significantly alter the character of the area. A special use must protect public health and safety, and provisions must also be made to ensure that vehicles and pedestrians can access the property safely.

Our attorneys understand what it takes to successfully navigate through this process. We will assist you in preparing a comprehensive application that addresses all relevant factors and presents your case persuasively before the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The Zoning Appeal Process

If your request for a permit is denied by local authorities, you have the right to appeal their decision and obtain a variance or special use permit. The appeals process typically involves several steps:

  1. Initial denial: If a Plan Examiner denies a permit, they will provide a referral letter to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
  2. Submission of documents and materials: When applying for a variance or special use permit, certain types of materials must be submitted. These materials may include floor plans, plans of operation, and photos of the property in question.
  3. Review by the Zoning Administration Group (ZAG): Representatives from different city government departments will review the application, identify potential issues, and make recommendations before allowing the appeal to proceed.
  4. Public hearing: The Board of Zoning Appeals will review submitted materials, reports, comments from other parties, and any other relevant information to determine whether to grant the appeal.
  5. Decision: The Board will render a decision at the hearing, and a written decision will be provided within one week. If an appeal is granted, the property owner or business owner may then apply for the necessary permits. Unfavorable decisions by the Board of Zoning Appeals may be appealed in the appropriate Circuit Court.

Contact Our Milwaukee Board of Zoning Appeals Attorneys

If you are facing challenges related to zoning laws or need assistance in pursuing zoning appeals in Milwaukee, Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can provide you with the legal assistance you need. Our experienced city licensing attorneys have a deep understanding of local regulations, and we can help guide you through this complex area of law. Schedule a consultation today by calling 414-271-1440 or contacting us online.

Back to Top