Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in Virginia
Poquoson, Virginia has a fairly large number of laws that dictate how particular plots of real estate can and cannot be used, and what can and can't be built on them, and these laws aren't always easy to follow. This article won't make you an authority on the subject, but should introduce you to some of the most essential concepts in zoning law.
"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. Generally, localities are divided up into "zones," which are designated for certain categories of use, such as single-family residence, business, manufacturing, etc.
Zoning serves several different purposes - but it its major 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 just convert his property into a steel mill, your property's value as a residential lot would decrease significantly.
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 Poquoson, Virginia
Suppose you find that some condition on your land is in violation of Poquoson, Virginia'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.
Occasionally, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Poquoson, Virginia'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 Poquoson, Virginia 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 Poquoson, Virginia 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.