Zoning Regulations are the set of local, state, and federal laws that govern how a section of land can be used. Zoning laws can dictate aspects of land use such as:
- What types of activities can be conducted in a given boundary
- What types of buildings can be built on a section of land
- Whether the area is to be used for residential, commercial, or business use
- Whether food or alcohol may be served on the premises
- Which classes of people are allowed to be on or operate in the area
Most zoning regulations exist in order to promote key concepts such as health and safety. They also keep separation between private and business activities, so that business operations don’t interfere with the community’s private life. Zoning regulations also delineate the boundaries for the geographic area which the limitations apply to.
Zoning regulations can often be a source of legal dispute. Disputes typically involve conflicts between single individuals and larger organizations such as businesses, schools, churches, etc. Some common zoning regulation disputes may include:
- Business vs. Residential use: As mentioned, businesses can sometimes interfere with residential use of an area. An example of this is where a drive-thru at a restaurant causes too much noise and traffic for a nearby apartment complex
- School Zones: Many prohibitions are associated with school zones, such as no guns and no persons with certain criminal convictions allowed within a set distance
- Construction Regulations: There are many regulations regarding where a building can be built, as well as the specs of the building. In many areas, buildings cannot exceed a certain height
- Religious vs. Commercial Use: Generally speaking, religious centers are not allowed in areas that are designated for commercial business use
There may be many other types of zoning disputes. In addition, each local or town government may have very unique zoning ordinances that are specific to that city or neighborhood. This is because each jurisdiction may have very unique characteristics in terms of geography, natural resources, and population statistics.
If you’ve been involved in a zoning dispute, you may need to research the specific rules that govern where you live or work. Again, these can be very different depending on the area. Also, you’ll want to review any documents that could be of help in resolving the dispute, such as the title to a home.
Such tasks can get complicated depending on the issue, and it may be necessary to hire a lawyer. In severe instances, it may be necessary to challenge a zoning ordinance in court.
Zoning regulations can affect entire areas in a given city. If you have any legal questions or disputes involving a zoning regulation, you may be looking to hire a real estate lawyer for assistance. An experienced attorney can help explain the different zoning rules in your area. In addition, your attorney can represent you in court if you need to file a lawsuit.