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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in Alabama
The laws governing how land can and cannot be used in Muscle Shoals, 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 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.
Zoning laws usually acknowledge the necessities of things like factories, sewage treatment plants, and stockyards, but recognize that such activities shouldn't be conducted in residential areas.
What if My Property Violates Muscle Shoals, Alabama's Zoning Laws?
If something on your property is in violation of a Muscle Shoals, Alabama zoning law, the landowner has various options.
It should be evident that the first option you should consider is to correct the violation. If doing this wouldn't cost you very much, or pose a huge inconvenience, you should obviously do this.
Of course, simply fixing a zoning violation isn't always inexpensive or easy, and may interfere with your planned use of your property. For example, you might have just undertaken a substantial remodeling of your home, and later found out that some small part of it technically doesn't conform to Muscle Shoals, Alabama's zoning laws. If this happens to you, you can apply to your local zoning board for what's known as a "variance." This is simply a decree by the zoning board that the particular rule your property violates no longer applies. The Supreme Court has held that local zoning boards have to grant variances when the violation is quite minor, and enforcing the ordinance would be unduly burdensome and not in the public interest.
Additionally, if the zoning laws covering your property have changed, and some aspect of it is now violating the new rules, these changes can usually not be enforced against you, because it would be unfair to apply a new law retroactively.
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How Can a Muscle Shoals, Alabama Attorney Help?
If you want to make improvements to your property, apply for a variance, or contest a zoning regulation as being applied to you retroactively, you have a right to do so, including some constitutional protections. However, your chances of prevailing in a zoning conflict will be markedly improved if you hire an efficient Muscle Shoals, Alabama real estate attorney to help.