Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in Florida
The laws governing how land can and cannot be used in Orange County, Florida are fairly complex, and can be confusing to laypersons. This should provide a basic overview.
Localities typically divide their jurisdictions into segments, referred to as "zones," on which particular types of use are permitted. For example, one area of a town might be zoned for residential use, a nearby one for commercial use, and areas on the outskirts zoned for industrial use. This practice is called "zoning."
Zoning serves several different purposes - but it its basic 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 simply convert his property into a steel mill, your property's value as a residential lot would decrease significantly.
Zoning laws don't exist just to protect residential use - it also protects people 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.
Possible Outcomes of Boundary and Title Disputes in Orange County, Florida
Zoning laws are often quite extensive and meticulous, and it's very possible that your property in Orange County, Florida contains some minor zoning violation that you don't know about. If this happens to you, you have significant legal protections.
First, and perhaps most obviously, you can correct the violation. If the violation is relatively minor, and correcting it would not cost you much or be a significant burden, this might be the best way to go.
Sometimes, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Orange County, Florida'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. Generally, variances are granted when the violation is very minor, and, enforcing the letter of the zoning law would not do much to advance its broader purpose.
Additionally, if you have been living on your property for a long time, and made improvements on it that complied with the zoning laws in effect at the time, a new zoning law that would be violated by your current use of your property, the new law cannot be enforced against you. The U.S. Constitution bars the passage of "ex post facto," or retroactive, laws. Once the laws take effect, however, you'll have to comply with the new zoning laws with respect to any new improvements you want to make on your property.
What Can A Orange County, Florida Attorney Do?
If you are in the early stages of a major construction or remodeling project on your property, especially if it is in a residential area (where zoning laws tend to be most restrictive), you are likely to encounter one zoning law issue or another. Of course, having read this article, you should now be aware that you have rights when it comes to contesting a zoning law as applied to you. While such contests do not always come out on the side of the landowner, the assistance of a good Orange County, Florida real estate attorney will greatly improve one's chances.