Zoning is a form of local land use control that helps protects individual homeowners and also the community as a whole. Municipal authorities and local communities have a say in zoning, and those who want to change the local zoning or secure a variance often need to attend hearings first.
The zoning code assigned to a specific parcel of real property determines what the owner or occupant can do with that property. From agricultural to industrial zoning with some mixed-use zoning in between, there are different rules for properties in different areas and neighborhoods with different characteristics.
As a business or landowner, you might need to initiate zoning litigation to protect your property, possibly for one of the two purposes below.
To appeal a zoning decision
Sometimes, zoning litigation aims to correct what a property owner views as an unfair and inappropriate determination by the local authorities. If you have been unsuccessful in addressing the issue at the local level, you may have no choice but to go to court.
For example, if you invested in an environmental impact study that showed your proposed use would have minimal impact but environmental concerns were still the reason to reject your zoning variance request, you may be able to convince the courts that the decision was unfair and a violation of local rules.
To enforce existing zoning rules
Zoning regulations help you protect your property value and preserve the existing characteristics of a community. A zoning violation could have major negative implications for local property owners. Someone who starts engaging in agricultural pursuits in a residential neighborhood could cause terrible smells and endanger the local water supply, for example.
When a neighbor has engaged in behavior that violates local zoning ordinances and has caused noteworthy damage to your property or business, you can potentially take them to court to stop their activity or to seek damages.
Zoning and land use litigation can be very complex, which is why many people don’t assert their rights as property owners. You need to learn about state and local laws and also gather documentation about your property use plans or your complaints about the current situation.
Getting help managing a zoning litigation matter can help you preserve and even improve the value and usefulness of your real property.