Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in Texas

Belton, Texas 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.

Local governments will normally divide the city or town into sections, called "zones," each of which is designated for a particular use, such as residential homes, commercial businesses, agriculture, manufacturing, etc. This process is known as "zoning."

Zoning serves many different purposes - but it its basic one is to increase or preserve property values by ensuring that conflicting uses don't result in legal disputes. Obviously, if you bought a house in a residential neighborhood, and your neighbor could simply convert his property into a steel mill, your property's value as a residential lot would decrease substantially.

Zoning laws typically acknowledge the necessities of things like factories, sewage treatment plants, and stockyards, but recognize that such activities shouldn't be conducted in residential areas.

Possible Outcomes of Boundary and Title Disputes in Belton, Texas

Zoning laws are commonly quite extensive and meticulous, and it's extremely possible that your property in Belton, Texas contains some minor zoning violation that you don't know about. If this happens to you, you have considerable legal protections.

The most obvious solution is to correct the problem, so your property is no longer in violation of local zoning laws. If the violation is minor, and correcting it would not be very costly, this is likely the best way to go.

What if, however, you've invested a considerable amount of time and money into making an improvement on your property, only to find that it violates your local zoning laws in some minor way? In this case, you can apply for a variance. This is basically an exception to the zoning rules. If declining to enforce these rules would not harm anyone, and would not do much to advance the purpose of Belton, Texas's zoning laws, a variance will normally be granted.

Additionally, zoning ordinances cannot be applied against you retroactively. For example, 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 live 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 Belton, Texas 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 Belton, Texas 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.