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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in Indiana

The laws that regulate how land can be used, and what structures can be built on individual pieces of land in Jefferson County, Indiana can sometimes be a bit confusing. This article will not make its reader an expert, but should serve as a good introduction to the subject.

"Zoning" refers to a set of laws and regulations which state what use can be made of land in different parts of a city or county. Usually, localities are divided up into "zones," which are designated for specific categories of use, such as single-family residence, business, manufacturing, etc.

There are a lot of rationales and purposes for zoning laws. In general, they're based in common sense: chemical plants shouldn't be constructed next to daycare centers, pig farms should not be constructed in the middle of a residential neighborhood, and other simple principles similar to that. Zoning laws, by keeping conflicting land uses separate, make life easier for all parties, ensuring that property values will be preserved, and that necessary industries can be conducted where they will not bother anyone.

On the other hand, zoning laws recognize and attempt to accommodate the necessity of factories and other industrial activities. They just seek to ensure that such activities are performed in a way that they don't conflict with the rights of adjacent landowners to use and enjoy their property in peace.

What if My Property Violates Jefferson County, Indiana's Zoning Laws?

You have quite a few options if you find that a planned or prevailing use of your property breaks Jefferson County, Indiana's zoning regulations.

It should be clear, however, that the ideal solution is to just fix any condition on your property which is in violation of a local zoning law. If the violation is not significant, and correcting it won't considerably interfere with your use of your property, this is likely the ideal course of action.

What if, however, you've invested a substantial amount of time and money into making an improvement on your property, only to find that it breaks your local zoning laws in some minor way? In this case, you can apply for a variance. This is typically an exception to the zoning rules. If declining to enforce these rules would not harm anyone, and would not do much to advance the purpose of Jefferson County, Indiana's zoning laws, a variance will typically be granted.

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 Jefferson County, Indiana 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 Jefferson County, Indiana 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.

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