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Snooki, JWoww Can't Film in Jersey Town Because of Zoning

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By Betty Wang, JD on July 29, 2013 8:47 AM

What do "Jersey Shore's" Snooki and JWoww, and some local zoning ordinances have in common? Well, an actual connection, for starters.

According to USA Today, not only do residents of Pelican Island, New Jersey, have serious concerns about Nicole "Snookie" Polizzie and Jennifer "JWoww" Farley's new reality TV show being taped at a home in their town, but these plans actually might violate a local regulation.

Shooting a TV show at a house on Sunset Drive South could violate the town's zoning ordinances, and a letter is on its way to inform Mike Loundy, the owner of the property where the show was being taped.

The Zoning Situation

While members of the town and production crew may have their own personal opinions on the two reality TV starlets, the ordinance strictly concerns a violation of the use of a residential zone.

What does this mean, exactly?

Zoning ordinances are local land-use regulations. Their primary role is to divide areas into different "zones." Usually, the zone categories are residential, commercial, and industrial districts.

Each type of zone has its own separate rules and restrictions, including the type of buildings allowed and what activities the buildings can be used for. Here, since the house in question is in a residential zone, the filming of a reality TV show there can arguably be deemed a commercial use, rather than a residential one.

Legal Options for Snooki, JWoww?

If shooting Snooki and JWoww's reality show really does violate the zoning ordinance, what are their options? Here are a few that can be considered:

  • Community support. Although it looks unlikely for this particular case, community support (letters, petitions, etc.) can sometimes sway local lawmakers to overlook a possible zoning violation.
  • Zoning variances. A zoning variance is a specific waiver that allows the requirements of a particular zoning ordinance to be lifted, usually because of an undue hardship. It's essentially a request to deviate from the zoning requirements, and assessed on an individual basis.
  • Conditional use permit. Similar to a zoning variance, a conditional use permit is a permit that allows for the conditional use of a particular activity, even if against the zoning rules, as long as it fufills a certain condition or set of conditions.

Once the letter from the township is received, Loundy would have 10 days to address the violation. Stay tuned.

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