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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in Alabama
The laws governing how land can and cannot be used in Center Point, Alabama are fairly difficult, and can be confusing to laypersons. This should provide a basic overview.
"Zoning" is the process by which a local government makes laws determining how individual pieces of land within its jurisdiction can be used. Normally, towns or cities are segmented off into "zones," each one being designated for a specific type of use. Examples of common zoning categories are single family residence, commercial, multi-unit housing, or industrial.
There are many different reasons that cities might engage in zoning - but it is normally designed around making cities more livable, by preventing conflicting uses from clashing with one another. After all, few people would want to live in a house next to a vacant lot, if there is a chance that somebody could decide to build a pig farm next door. The security provided by zoning laws helps preserve property values
While zoning laws appear to be geared just toward protecting residents, they also protect industry, by ensuring that they are free to conduct their business without getting caught up in the many legal disputes that would be inevitable if they were closer to a residential area.
What if My Property Violates Center Point, Alabama's Zoning Laws?
Zoning laws are commonly quite extensive and meticulous, and it's extremely possible that your property in Center Point, Alabama contains some minor zoning violation that you don't know about. If this happens to you, you have considerable legal protections.
First, and perhaps most evidently, you can correct the violation. If the violation is relatively minor, and correcting it would not cost you much or be a considerable burden, this might be the best way to go.
Sometimes, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Center Point, Alabama's zoning laws. In this case, the owner can apply for a variance - an official agreement from the local government to not enforce a particular zoning regulation. Typically, variances are granted when the violation is extremely minor, and, enforcing the letter of the zoning law would not do much to advance its broader purpose.
You are also protected if your land is currently in full compliance with local zoning regulations, but the area where your land sits is re-zoned, and your property is suddenly not in compliance with the new zoning regulations. Typically, these new regulations cannot be used to force you to change existing conditions on your property. No laws can be applied retroactively, under the U.S. Constitution. Of course, if you make any improvements on your land after the law changes, you'll have to comply with the new law.
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How Can a Center Point, Alabama Attorney Help?
If you suddenly become involved in a zoning dispute with your local government, it's necessary to seek competent legal representation. The counsel of an accomplished Center Point, Alabama real estate attorney can make it much easier for you to act within the law to use your own property as you wish, or at least be as free as possible to make improvements to your land.