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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in Alabama

The laws governing how land can and cannot be used in Lincoln, Alabama are fairly confusing, 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 common zoning categories are single family residence, commercial, multi-unit housing, or industrial.

There are several 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 retain 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 proficient by helping it avoid costly nuisance lawsuits.

What if My Property Violates Lincoln, Alabama's Zoning Laws?

Suppose you find that some condition on your land is in violation of Lincoln, Alabama's zoning laws. In cases like this, you have quite a few options.

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 probably the best and easiest option.

Sometimes, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Lincoln, 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. 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 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. Usually, 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 Lincoln, Alabama Attorney Help?

If you find yourself facing zoning or other land use issues, it's crucial to have good legal advice. A knowledgeable Lincoln, Alabama 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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