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 Ipswich, Massachusetts can sometimes be a bit difficult. This article will not make its reader an expert, but should serve as a good introduction to the subject.
Local governments will normally divide the city or town into sections, called "zones," each of which is designated for a specific use, such as residential homes, commercial businesses, agriculture, manufacturing, etc. This process is known as "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.
On the other hand, zoning laws recognize and attempt to accommodate the necessity of factories and other industrial activities. They just seek to ensure that such activities are done in a way that they don't conflict with the rights of adjacent landowners to use and enjoy their property in peace.
Possible Outcomes of Boundary and Title Disputes in Ipswich, Massachusetts
You have quite a few options if you find that a planned or prevailing use of your property breaks Ipswich, Massachusetts's zoning regulations.
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.
Of course, just fixing a zoning violation isn't always modest or easy, and may interfere with your planned use of your property. For instance, you might have just undertaken a considerable remodeling of your home, and later found out that some small part of it technically doesn't conform to Ipswich, Massachusetts'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 extremely minor, and enforcing the ordinance would be unduly burdensome and not in the public interest.
You are also protected if your land is currently in complete 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. Typically, these new regulations cannot be utilized 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 Ipswich, Massachusetts Attorney Do?
If you suddenly become involved in a zoning dispute with your local government, it's necessary to seek competent legal representation. The counsel of an accomplished Ipswich, Massachusetts 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.