Featured News 2016 What is a Zoning Dispute?

What is a Zoning Dispute?

Zoning refers to how public authorities regulate privately-owned land. Zoning laws are important; they are one of the tools used by local governments when planning communities, regulating business activities, and when protecting residential neighborhoods.

As a homeowner, you may have heard of a "zoning ordinance." Zoning ordinances are the local laws that deal directly with zoning. As a general rule, zoning ordinances regulate exactly how a piece of land can be used, for example, an area can be zoned for residential or commercial uses, or it can be zoned for horses. Cities typically have many different zoning ordinances.

Overview of Zoning Disputes

Do you believe that your neighbor's retaining wall is encroaching your property? Or, perhaps your neighbor's new second story has blocked your ocean view. Or, maybe the home being built next to your property is too close. Any of these conflicts would be considered "zoning disputes."

Sometimes a zoning dispute involves two individuals, for example, when neighbors are arguing over their property line. Often, a zoning dispute involves something such as a privately-owned business and the local city government. Such a dispute can occur when the business is very close to a residential neighborhood.

Zoning disputes are often about:

  • Parking for a business near a residential area.
  • Obstruction of a view because a building is too tall.
  • The placement of signs, which clutter a neighborhood.
  • Setback issues, where a building is too close to a property line and affects ventilation, sunlight, or aesthetics, causing an overcrowded appearance.

Sometimes a zoning dispute has nothing to do with a building, but has to do with what kinds of activities can be conducted in certain areas. For example, using a cart to sell popsicles in a residential neighborhood without a license – that could fall under a zoning issue.

Zoning ordinances can change from neighborhood-to-neighborhood and city-to-city, so if you are having a dispute with a neighbor or the local city government, you should speak with an experienced real estate attorney regarding the laws in your area.

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