Phillips & Angley

Fighting back against unfair zoning and land use laws

Massachusetts property owners know there are various laws and regulations in place that affect how they use their property and what they can do with their land. Property use and zoning laws are some of the most complex issues a property owner will face. In some cases, conflicts with local authorities over these things leads to complex legal disputes.

Zoning designations are in place for the public benefit, allowing authorities to organize growth and protect the interests of property owners. Local authorities have the right to determine the zoning distinction of each area, but sometimes, the local property owner has a problem with this designation. If you find yourself in this situation, you have a few options by which you can fight for your interests and challenge the zoning of your property.

Your options

You have a few options when you believe the zoning of your property unfairly infringes on how you want to use your land. One thing you can do is to seek an exception. It may be possible for you to secure permission to continue to use the property in the way you were already using it. This is continuing existing use or lawful nonconforming use.

It may also be appropriate for you to seek a variance. This is when you ask the local government to grant you an exception to how you use the land or the building on the land because following the zoning designation would lead to undue hardship for you. You must be able to prove that you would face unfair impacts if you did not get a variance.

Did the government take your land?

One of your options may also include claiming that, by changing the zoning of your property, the government essentially took your land. If you are able to prove this, the government would owe you fair compensation for the land you gave up. You have the right to fight for fair market value of your land.

Your rights as a property owner

If zoning designations changed and it affects your property, or you believe current zoning is unfair or the government infringed on your rights in any way, you have the right to fight back. You may want to start by seeking the assistance of an attorney who can help you protect your property rights and future interests. It may help you start this process with a complete assessment of your case.

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