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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in Arkansas

The laws governing how land can and cannot be used in Little Rock, Arkansas are fairly difficult, 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. Normally, 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 created next to daycare centers, pig farms should not be created 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 don't exist just to protect residential use - it also protects individuals who engage in other types of use of land, by making sure that they are able to do their business, without bothering neighboring landowners, and thereby avoiding legal disputes.

What if My Property Violates Little Rock, Arkansas's Zoning Laws?

If something on your property is in violation of a Little Rock, Arkansas zoning law, the landowner has many 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 massive inconvenience, you should obviously do this.

Sometimes, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Little Rock, Arkansas'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. Typically, variances are granted when the violation is extremely minor, and, enforcing the letter of the zoning law would not do much to advance its broader purpose.

Additionally, zoning ordinances cannot be applied against you retroactively. For example, suppose you built a 3-story house on your property, and your property was zoned to allow 3-story houses to be built at the time of construction. And then, years later, the area you live in is re-zoned, to only allow 2-story houses. Can the local government force you to remove a whole level of your house? Of course not. Applying a law retroactively is unconstitutional. On the other hand, any future changes you want to make to your property will have to comply with the applicable zoning ordinance as it is currently written.

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How Can a Little Rock, Arkansas Attorney Help?

If you find yourself facing zoning or other land use issues, it's important to have good legal advice. A brilliant Little Rock, Arkansas 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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Life in Little Rock

Little Rock is the largest city in the State of Arkansas by any measurement. The City of Little Rock is the most important center of government in Arkansas and acts as the state capital and seat of Pulaski County Government. Today, Little Rock is home to over 700,000 residents who live in the city's 36 diverse neighborhoods.

There are a lot of outstanding museums in Little Rock like the Arkansas Arts Center, William J. Clinton Presidential Center, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, and the hands-on Arkansas Museum of Discovery to name a few. Little Rock's Arkansas Arboretum is one of the most outstanding examples of native and exotic plans around. The Arkansas Art Center offers a museum school in addition to attractions like Van Gogh and Rembrandt pieces. The global hunger, poverty, and relief organization Heifer International operate their world headquarters from Little Rock.

Some prominent corporations and companies like Dillard's Department Stores, Windstream Communications, Acxiom, Rose Law Firm, and Metropolitan National Bank have headquarters in Little Rock. A number of hospital and renown research facilities make home in town. The largest of those include Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Baptist Health Medical Center, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), and the Arkansas Children's Hospital. Other businesses that have major installations in Little Rock are L'Oreal Paris, Timex, Entergy, Raytheon, Siemens, Kroger, Dassault Falcon Jet, and AT&T Mobility.

I suppose it wasn't too shocking for residents when the Brookings Institution ranked Little Rock as the 7th best economy in the United States. It was second best in growth. Don't think rapid expansion has taken a negative toll on Little Rock. It's as gorgeous as ever and even was awarded the title of 2nd cleanest city in America by Forbes Magazine.

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