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Alternate options for resolving a zoning dispute

If you have a dispute regarding zoning, you may want to avoid some of the pitfalls of litigation. Although resolving disputes in the courts is beneficial in some situations, there are alternatives for those who want a less contentious process.

Mediation and arbitration have grown in popularity, as they allow for the disputing parties to resolve the issue in a less stressful and more affordable way.

Downsides of litigation

Litigation is the best-known dispute resolution method, and it involves attorneys for each side, a judge and possibly a jury. FindLaw discusses some of the issues with litigation:

  • Extremely time-consuming and expensive
  • Hinders efficient problem solving
  • Unpredictable
  • Takes control away from the disputing parties

Litigation also often destroys relationships, so parties who want to maintain a healthy working relationship may want to pursue other avenues.

Alternative options

The Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation discusses two popular options for those who want to avoid litigation.


Mediation involves a mediator, who is a neutral third party that guides discussions between the parties. Mediators can be facilitative or evaluative, depending on the situation. They have the skills to help the parties work through differences so they can come up with a fair solution together.


Arbitration also involves a neutral third party, an arbitrator, but the process is a bit more formal than mediation. The two sides present their cases and evidence to the arbitrator, either via lawyers or without, and then the arbitrator, acting as judge, makes a binding decision regarding resolution.