Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in Pennsylvania
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania has laws which control how individual parcels of land can be used, and how they cannot. These rules aren't always simple, and this article should serve as an introduction to some of the most frequent issues that homeowners might face, though it is not meant to turn a layperson into an expert.
"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 many different reasons that cities might engage in zoning - but it is normally 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 preserve property values
On the other hand, zoning laws recognize and attempt to accommodate the necessity of factories and other industrial activities. They simply seek to ensure that such activities are done 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 Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Zoning laws are commonly quite extensive and meticulous, and it's extremely possible that your property in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania contains some minor zoning violation that you don't know about. If this happens to you, you have considerable legal protections.
First, and perhaps most evidently, you can correct the violation. If the violation is relatively minor, and correcting it would not cost you much or be a considerable burden, this might be the best way to go.
Sometimes, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania's zoning laws. In this case, the owner can apply for a variance - an official agreement from the local government to not enforce a particular zoning regulation. Typically, variances are granted when the violation is extremely minor, and, enforcing the letter of the zoning law would not do much to advance its broader purpose.
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 Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Attorney Do?
If you find yourself facing zoning or other land use issues, it's important to have good legal advice. A brilliant Allegheny County, Pennsylvania 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.