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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in Alabama
The laws controlling how land can and cannot be used in Geneva, Alabama are fairly complicated, 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. Typically, towns or cities are segmented off into "zones," each one being designated for a specific type of use. Examples of typical zoning categories are single family residence, commercial, multi-unit housing, or industrial.
There are numerous different reasons that cities might engage in zoning - but it is typically 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 maintain property values
Zoning also serves the interests of industry, as well as residents. By ensuring that there are places where heavy industry can take place, well-planned zoning regulations will ensure that industrialists are free to practice their trade, and that residents will not be disturbed by those activities, which makes industry more feasible by helping it prevent costly nuisance lawsuits.
What if My Property Violates Geneva, Alabama's Zoning Laws?
If something on your property is in violation of a Geneva, Alabama zoning law, the landowner has various avenues.
Initially, and perhaps most apparently, you can correct the violation. If the violation is comparatively minor, and correcting it would not cost you much or be a substantial burden, this might be the best way to go.
Occasionally, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Geneva, 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 certain zoning regulation. Usually, variances are granted when the violation is quite 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 complete 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. Usually, these new regulations cannot be utilized 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 Geneva, Alabama Attorney Help?
If you suddenly become involved in a zoning dispute with your local government, it's imperative to seek competent legal representation. The counsel of an efficient Geneva, 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.