Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in Texas
La Porte, Texas has laws which govern 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 common issues that homeowners might face, though it is not meant to turn a layperson into an expert.
Local governments will usually divide the city or town into sections, called "zones," each of which is designated for a specific use, such as residential homes, commercial businesses, agriculture, manufacturing, etc. This process is known as "zoning."
Local governments have various different reasons for enacting zoning laws, ranging from ensuring that residential areas are peaceful and quiet, to safeguarding property values. For instance, most people wouldn't buy a home in a neighborhood where they knew it was possible for a neighbor to turn their house into a factory.
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 various legal disputes that would be inevitable if they were closer to a residential area.
Possible Outcomes of Boundary and Title Disputes in La Porte, Texas
If a condition on your property breaks the local zoning laws of La Porte, Texas, there are a few different solutions.
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.
Occasionally, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of La Porte, Texas's zoning laws. In this case, the owner can apply for a variance - an official agreement from the local government to not enforce a certain zoning regulation. Generally, variances are granted when the violation is very minor, and, enforcing the letter of the zoning law would not do much to advance its broader purpose.
Furthermore, zoning ordinances cannot be applied against you retroactively. For instance, 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 reside 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 La Porte, Texas 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 La Porte, 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.