Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in Georgia
The laws controlling how land can and cannot be used in St. Marys, Georgia are fairly complicated, and can be confusing to laypersons. This should provide a basic overview.
Localities normally divide their jurisdictions into segments, referred to as "zones," on which particular types of use are permitted. For instance, 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."
Local governments have various different reasons for enacting zoning laws, ranging from ensuring that residential areas are peaceful and quiet, to safeguarding property values. For instance, most people wouldn't buy a home in a neighborhood where they knew it was possible for a neighbor to turn their house into a factory.
Zoning laws usually acknowledge the necessities of things like factories, sewage treatment plants, and stockyards, but recognize that such activities shouldn't be done in residential areas.
Possible Outcomes of Boundary and Title Disputes in St. Marys, Georgia
If something on your property is in violation of a St. Marys, Georgia zoning law, the landowner has various avenues.
The most obvious solution is to correct the problem, so your property is no longer in violation of local zoning laws. If the violation is minor, and correcting it would not be extremely costly, this is likely the ideal way to go.
Of course, just fixing a zoning violation isn't always inexpensive or easy, and may interfere with your planned use of your property. For instance, 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 St. Marys, Georgia'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.
Moreover, if you have been residing 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 prevailing 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 St. Marys, Georgia Attorney Do?
If you find yourself facing zoning or other land use issues, it's critical to have good legal advice. A reliable St. Marys, Georgia 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.