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Conditional uses are a means of providing flexibility in the uses permitted in a particular zoning district. The technique has several names, including special permit, special use, and special exception, all of which mean the assignment of conditions to the approval of a use.
Local governments establish conditional uses as a technique in the zoning ordinance for flexibility and because special standards are sometimes required for desirable uses. There are often uses that would be welcome within the zoning district if additional standards could prevent them from undermining the purpose and intent of the district.
This issue of Zoning Practice discusses how communities can assign meaningful conditions to the approval of certain uses to allow for greater zoning flexibility.
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