Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in North Dakota

In Jamestown, North Dakota, 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 quite accessible to laypersons. This article should serve as a good overview of these laws.

"Zoning" is the process by which a local government makes laws determining how individual pieces of land within its jurisdiction can be used. Typically, towns or cities are segmented off into "zones," each one being designated for a specific type of use. Examples of common zoning categories are single family residence, commercial, multi-unit housing, or industrial.

The purpose of zoning is to preserve property values, and make towns and cities more livable. For example, without zoning laws, a company might be able to buy a vacant lot next to your house and create a noisy, smelly, dirty factory on it.

While zoning laws appear to be geared just toward protecting residents, they also protect industry, by ensuring that they are free to conduct their business without getting caught up in the many legal disputes that would be inevitable if they were closer to a residential area.

Possible Outcomes of Boundary and Title Disputes in Jamestown, North Dakota

If something on your property is in violation of a Jamestown, North Dakota zoning law, the landowner has various options.

First, and perhaps most apparently, you can correct the violation. If the violation is relatively minor, and correcting it would not cost you much or be a substantial burden, this might be the best way to go.

Of course, simply fixing a zoning violation isn't always inexpensive or easy, and may interfere with your planned use of your property. For example, you might have just undertaken a substantial remodeling of your home, and later found out that some small part of it technically doesn't conform to Jamestown, North Dakota'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 quite minor, and enforcing the ordinance would be unduly burdensome and not in the public interest.

Further, if you have been living on your property for a long time, and made improvements on it that complied with the zoning laws in effect at the time, a new zoning law that would be violated by your current use of your property, the new law cannot be enforced against you. The U.S. Constitution bars the passage of "ex post facto," or retroactive, laws. Once the laws take effect, however, you'll have to comply with the new zoning laws with respect to any new improvements you want to make on your property.

What Can A Jamestown, North Dakota Attorney Do?

If you find yourself facing zoning or other land use issues, it's important to have good legal advice. A knowledgeable Jamestown, North Dakota 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.