Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in Iowa

The laws controlling how land can and cannot be used in Winterset, Iowa are fairly intricate, and can be confusing to laypersons. This should provide a basic overview.

Municipal governments which practice zoning usually 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 usually be zoned for residential and small-scale commercial use, and the outskirts zoned for manufacturing and other heavy industry.

Zoning serves many different purposes - but it its major 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 substantially.

While zoning laws appear to be geared just toward protecting residents, they also protect industry, by ensuring that they are free to conduct their business without getting caught up in the numerous legal disputes that would be inevitable if they were closer to a residential area.

Possible Outcomes of Boundary and Title Disputes in Winterset, Iowa

Zoning laws are commonly quite extensive and meticulous, and it's extremely possible that your property in Winterset, Iowa contains some minor zoning violation that you don't know about. If this happens to you, you have considerable legal protections.

Initially, and perhaps most evidently, you can correct the violation. If the violation is comparatively minor, and correcting it would not cost you much or be a considerable burden, this might be the best way to go.

Occasionally, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Winterset, 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. 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 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 Winterset, Iowa Attorney Do?

If you find yourself facing zoning or other land use issues, it's essential to have good legal advice. A seasoned Winterset, Iowa 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.