Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in Massachusetts

The laws that regulate how land can be used, and what structures can be built on individual pieces of land in Berkley, Massachusetts can sometimes be a bit complicated. This article will not make its reader an expert, but should serve as a good introduction to the subject.

Local governments will usually divide the city or town into sections, called "zones," each of which is designated for a particular use, such as residential homes, commercial businesses, agriculture, manufacturing, etc. This process is known as "zoning."

Local governments have many different reasons for enacting zoning laws, ranging from ensuring that residential areas are peaceful and quiet, to protecting property values. For example, 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 generally acknowledge the necessities of things like factories, sewage treatment plants, and stockyards, but recognize that such activities shouldn't be conducted in residential areas.

Possible Outcomes of Boundary and Title Disputes in Berkley, Massachusetts

You have quite a few options if you find that a planned or current use of your property violates Berkley, Massachusetts's zoning regulations.

It should be clear, however, that the ideal solution is to simply fix any condition on your property which is in violation of a local zoning law. If the violation is not serious, and correcting it won't significantly interfere with your use of your property, this is probably the best course of action.

But what happens if you've invested a large amount of effort and money into improving your land, and you later discover that you've committed some relatively minor zoning violation? You are generally entitled to seek what is known as a "variance" in these cases. A variance is simply when your local government makes a small exception to the zoning rules to accommodate a small violation that would be difficult to fix. A variance will usually be granted if the violation doesn't harm anyone, and enforcing Berkley, Massachusetts's zoning laws to the letter would not, in this case, advance their purposes.

You are also protected if your land is currently in full compliance with local zoning regulations, but the area where your land sits is re-zoned, and your property is suddenly not in compliance with the new zoning regulations. Generally, these new regulations cannot be used to force you to change existing conditions on your property. No laws can be applied retroactively, under the U.S. Constitution. Of course, if you make any improvements on your land after the law changes, you'll have to comply with the new law.

What Can A Berkley, Massachusetts Attorney Do?

If you find yourself facing zoning or other land use issues, it's important to have good legal advice. A good Berkley, Massachusetts 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.