Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in Maine

The laws that regulate how land can be used, and what structures can be built on individual pieces of land in Winthrop, Maine 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.

Localities typically divide their jurisdictions into segments, referred to as "zones," on which particular types of use are permitted. For instance, one area of a town might be zoned for residential use, a nearby one for commercial use, and areas on the outskirts zoned for industrial use. This practice is called "zoning."

There are numerous different reasons that cities might engage in zoning - but it is usually designed around making cities more livable, by preventing conflicting uses from clashing with one another. After all, few people would want to live in a house next to a vacant lot, if there is a chance that somebody could decide to build a pig farm next door. The security provided by zoning laws helps maintain property values

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 Winthrop, Maine

Zoning laws are often quite extensive and meticulous, and it's very possible that your property in Winthrop, Maine contains some minor zoning violation that you don't know about. If this happens to you, you have significant legal protections.

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.

Occasionally, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Winthrop, Maine'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. Generally, variances are granted when the violation is very minor, and, enforcing the letter of the zoning law would not do much to advance its broader purpose.

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 Winthrop, Maine Attorney Do?

If you suddenly become involved in a zoning dispute with your local government, it's essential to seek competent legal representation. The counsel of an experienced Winthrop, Maine 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.