Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in Iowa
The laws controlling how land can and cannot be used in Scott County, Iowa are fairly complicated, and can be confusing to laypersons. This should provide a basic overview.
Municipal governments which practice zoning normally follow a similar scheme: the town or city is divided up into "zones," or areas in which particular types of use are permitted. For instance, the downtown area might be zoned for commercial and office use, and perhaps for large, multi-unit apartment buildings. The surrounding areas will normally be zoned for residential and small-scale commercial use, and the outskirts zoned for manufacturing and other heavy industry.
Zoning serves various different purposes - but it its general 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 just convert his property into a steel mill, your property's value as a residential lot would decrease considerably.
Zoning laws don't exist just to protect residential use - it also protects persons 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 preventing legal disputes.
Possible Outcomes of Boundary and Title Disputes in Scott County, Iowa
Zoning laws are frequently quite extensive and meticulous, and it's quite possible that your property in Scott County, Iowa contains some minor zoning violation that you don't know about. If this happens to you, you have substantial legal protections.
It should be apparent 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.
Occasionally, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Scott County, Iowa's zoning laws. In this case, the owner can apply for a variance - an official agreement from the local government to not enforce a certain 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.
Moreover, zoning ordinances cannot be applied against you retroactively. For instance, 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 reside 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.
What Can A Scott County, Iowa Attorney Do?
If you suddenly become involved in a zoning dispute with your local government, it's imperative to seek competent legal representation. The counsel of an efficient Scott County, Iowa real estate attorney can make it much easier for you to act within the law to use your own property as you wish, or at least be as free as possible to make improvements to your land.