Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in Vermont
Barre, Vermont has a fairly massive number of laws that dictate how individual 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 important 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. Typically, localities are divided up into "zones," which are designated for particular categories of use, such as single-family residence, business, manufacturing, etc.
Zoning serves many different purposes - but it its main 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.
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 many legal disputes that would be inevitable if they were closer to a residential area.
Possible Outcomes of Boundary and Title Disputes in Barre, Vermont
Zoning laws are commonly quite extensive and meticulous, and it's extremely possible that your property in Barre, Vermont 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 Barre, Vermont'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.
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 Barre, Vermont 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 Barre, Vermont 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.