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 Mashpee, Massachusetts can sometimes be a bit perplexing. 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 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 conducted 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 Mashpee, Massachusetts

Suppose you find that some condition on your land is in violation of Mashpee, Massachusetts's zoning laws. In cases like this, you have quite a few avenues.

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

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 Mashpee, Massachusetts's zoning laws to the letter would not, in this case, advance their purposes.

Furthermore, 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 Mashpee, Massachusetts Attorney Do?

If you find yourself facing zoning or other land use issues, it's critical to have good legal advice. A reputable Mashpee, 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.