Zoning and land use laws govern the acceptable uses of property in a designated area. The laws cover a wide range of issues including:
- Whether land is designated for residential, commercial, or industrial use
- How dense development can be
- Restrictions on building height
- Requirements for environmental set offs
- Historic preservation rules
- Parking access
- Other easements
Zoning and land use laws are generally set by city, county, and state authorities, and special environmental agencies may have oversight as well. To ensure full compliance, it’s important to work with an experienced local attorney because it’s often difficult to discover every restriction that applies to a piece of land if you don’t already know about the restrictions.
Violations of zoning and land use fines range from one time fines to daily fines until an issue is corrected to possible condemnation of a property. Many violations arise out of failing to obtain the proper permits. These permits are designed to ensure any work done on a property complies with local laws, so it’s advisable to proactively ensure compliance with any permitting restrictions before commencing work. When purchasing a property, it’s important to remember that the previous owner may not have been in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations, so an independent compliance review should almost always be done.