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Real estate disputes: Is Target a department store, or not?

Many Florida consumers shop at Target. It is logical to assume that most people who do would consider it a department store. However, there are real estate disputes currently ongoing in another state where that assumption has been questioned and, in fact, legally rejected.

Residents in a particular community banded together to oppose a prospective building project. In a location where zoning laws limit commercial buildings to 10,000 square feet, developers proposed to build a small format Target store. Those who oppose the idea say there is a loophole in the zoning text that those in favor have exploited to their advantage.

The Board of Standards and Appeals have voted in favor of building the Target, stating that most of the structure will be located underground, which means the overall square footage of the building will align with current zoning laws. One city council member said it is a big mistake to allow cellar space to be used to avoid zoning regulations. He also said he will be looking into how to modify the current zoning code text to prevent this happening again down the line.

A spokesperson for the Board of Standards and Appeals stated that Target is not a department store but a variety store that, in this proposed case, would be in line with current zoning regulations. An attorney representing members of a community development group said it is wrong for city officials to hide a big box store underground to skirt the laws that are meant to protect communities from unlawful and harmful commercial development. Any person or group of community members facing similar real estate disputes in Florida may want to request a consultation with an attorney well-versed in current zoning laws.

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