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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in Utah

Morgan County, Utah has laws which regulate how individual parcels of land can be used, and how they cannot. These rules aren't always simple, and this article should serve as an introduction to some of the most prevalent issues that homeowners might face, though it is not meant to turn a layperson into an expert.

Municipal governments which practice zoning normally follow a similar scheme: the town or city is divided up into "zones," or areas in which particular types of use are permitted. For instance, the downtown area might be zoned for commercial and office use, and perhaps for large, multi-unit apartment buildings. The surrounding areas will normally be zoned for residential and small-scale commercial use, and the outskirts zoned for manufacturing and other heavy industry.

Zoning serves various different purposes - but it its major one is to increase or preserve property values by ensuring that conflicting uses don't result in legal disputes. Obviously, if you bought a house in a residential neighborhood, and your neighbor could just convert his property into a steel mill, your property's value as a residential lot would decrease considerably.

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 numerous legal disputes that would be inevitable if they were closer to a residential area.

What if My Property Violates Morgan County, Utah's Zoning Laws?

Zoning laws are frequently quite extensive and meticulous, and it's quite possible that your property in Morgan County, Utah contains some minor zoning violation that you don't know about. If this happens to you, you have substantial legal protections.

First of all, and most simply, the owner could just fix the violation. If the violation isn't very substantial, and fixing it wouldn't cost very much, this is likely the best and simplest option.

Occasionally, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Morgan County, Utah'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 Morgan County, Utah Attorney Help?

If you find yourself facing zoning or other land use issues, it's essential to have good legal advice. A reliable Morgan County, Utah attorney will help you work within the law to ensure that you are as free as possible to make the use of your land that you want.

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