Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in Virginia
Fredericksburg, Virginia 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.
Municipal governments which practice zoning typically follow a similar scheme: the town or city is divided up into "zones," or areas in which particular types of use are permitted. For instance, the downtown area might be zoned for commercial and office use, and perhaps for large, multi-unit apartment buildings. The surrounding areas will typically be zoned for residential and small-scale commercial use, and the outskirts zoned for manufacturing and other heavy industry.
There are various different reasons that cities might engage in zoning - but it is usually 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 uphold property values
On the other hand, zoning laws recognize and attempt to accommodate the necessity of factories and other industrial activities. They just seek to ensure that such activities are conducted 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 Fredericksburg, Virginia
Zoning laws are often quite extensive and meticulous, and it's very possible that your property in Fredericksburg, Virginia contains some minor zoning violation that you don't know about. If this happens to you, you have significant 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 extremely costly, this is likely the ideal way to go.
What if, however, you've invested a significant amount of time and money into making an improvement on your property, only to find that it breaks your local zoning laws in some minor way? In this case, you can apply for a variance. This is essentially 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 Fredericksburg, Virginia's zoning laws, a variance will usually be granted.
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 Fredericksburg, Virginia Attorney Do?
If you want to make improvements to your property, apply for a variance, or contest a zoning regulation as being applied to you retroactively, you have a right to do so, including some constitutional protections. However, your chances of prevailing in a zoning dispute will be markedly improved if you hire an experienced Fredericksburg, Virginia real estate attorney to help.