Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in New Mexico
In Santa Fe County, New Mexico, there are laws which determine what can and can't be done on certain parcels of land. These laws get pretty involved sometimes, and aren't always very accessible to laypersons. This article should serve as a good overview of these laws.
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."
The purpose of zoning is to preserve property values, and make towns and cities more livable. For instance, without zoning laws, a company might be able to purchase a vacant lot next to your house and build a noisy, smelly, dirty factory on it.
Zoning laws don't exist just to protect residential use - it also protects people 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 preventing legal disputes.
Possible Outcomes of Boundary and Title Disputes in Santa Fe County, New Mexico
Suppose you find that some condition on your land is in violation of Santa Fe County, New Mexico's zoning laws. In cases like this, you have quite a few avenues.
First of all, and most simply, the owner could just fix the violation. If the violation isn't very significant, and fixing it wouldn't cost very much, this is likely the best and simplest option.
Of course, just fixing a zoning violation isn't always affordable or easy, and may interfere with your planned use of your property. For instance, you might have just undertaken a significant remodeling of your home, and later found out that some small part of it technically doesn't conform to Santa Fe County, New Mexico'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 very 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. Generally, 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 Santa Fe County, New Mexico 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 Santa Fe County, New Mexico 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.