Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in Montana
In Whitefish, Montana, there are laws which determine what can and can't be done on given parcels of land. These laws get pretty involved sometimes, and aren't always extremely accessible to laypersons. This article should serve as a good overview of these laws.
"Zoning" refers to a set of laws and regulations which state what use can be made of land in different parts of a city or county. Typically, localities are divided up into "zones," which are designated for particular categories of use, such as single-family residence, business, manufacturing, etc.
There are a lot of rationales and purposes for zoning laws. In general, they're based in common sense: chemical plants shouldn't be created next to daycare centers, pig farms should not be created in the middle of a residential neighborhood, and other simple principles similar to that. Zoning laws, by keeping conflicting land uses separate, make life easier for all parties, ensuring that property values will be preserved, and that necessary industries can be conducted where they will not bother anyone.
Zoning laws don't exist just to protect residential use - it also protects individuals who engage in other types of use of land, by making sure that they are able to do their business, without bothering neighboring landowners, and thereby avoiding legal disputes.
Possible Outcomes of Boundary and Title Disputes in Whitefish, Montana
Zoning laws are commonly quite extensive and meticulous, and it's extremely possible that your property in Whitefish, Montana contains some minor zoning violation that you don't know about. If this happens to you, you have considerable legal protections.
First of all, and most simply, the owner could just fix the violation. If the violation isn't very considerable, and fixing it wouldn't cost very much, this is probably the best and easiest option.
However, it isn't always practical or affordable to correct a minor violation of a zoning law. For example, suppose you have just spent a large amount of money and effort remodeling a house to turn it into your dream home. You thought you were in total compliance with local zoning laws when you did this, but find out that there is some small, technical violation of Whitefish, Montana's zoning laws. In these cases, you have recourse in the form of a variance. You are entitled to petition the local zoning board to grant you a variance, which is an official decision not to apply a particular provision of a zoning law to a single violation. These aren't always granted, but typically have to be granted if the violation doesn't interfere with anyone else's use of their property, and doesn't thwart the purposes of local zoning laws.
You also have considerable protections if a zoning law changes, and you find that the land you've been living on for years is suddenly in violation of the new law. In general, zoning laws cannot apply to structures and uses which were built or commenced before the law was changed. Under the U.S. Constitution, it's not permissible for state or local governments to pass laws which have retroactive effect. You should know, however, that any future changes you make to your property will have to comply with the new zoning law.
What Can A Whitefish, Montana 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 Whitefish, Montana 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.