You may not realize it, but your property’s zoning designation affects everything from what you can build on the property, how you can use it, and the value of the property.
Where can I find my local government’s zoning regulations?
To learn more about how your property is zoned, you should look at your local government’s zoning map and zoning ordinances. These should be available online. Local governments regulate the use and development of property through the creation of zoning districts, the boundaries of which you will find on the zoning map. Typical zoning districts include residential, commercial, and industrial districts. The goal is generally to include similar uses within the same district and lend predictability to development. For example, zoning regulations allow you to purchase a home in a residential area and not have to worry about an industrial plant being constructed on an adjoining lot.
Zoning ordinances will tell you what land uses are permitted and restricted within in each district. Zoning ordinances also detail standards for items such as setbacks, landscaping, and signs for each zoning district. Both changes to the zoning ordinance, known as “text amendments” and changes to the zoning map, known as “map amendments,” can impact the value and uses of your property.
Are there any limits on my local government’s power to regulate my property?
Local governments’ abilities to plan and regulate development through zoning regulations are limited by state and federal law. North Carolina law provides for specific procedures that local governments must follow when making any amendments to their zoning map and ordinances. Furthermore, local governments are limited by the federal and state constitutions. Concepts like Due Process, Equal Protection, the Takings Clause, and First Amendment Freedoms (for example the freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and association) all act to limit local governments’ zoning power.
What if I still have questions?
As you can tell, zoning can be an incredibly complex area of law. You should consult an experienced land zoning attorney if:
- You want to change the zoning on your property by obtaining what is called a “variance;”
- You have been cited by the local government for violating a zoning regulation;
- You plan to build a new business or purchase a piece of property for a business and want to make sure your plans will comply with the applicable zoning law;
- You recently discovered that the local government made or plans to make serious changes to its zoning ordinance that affect the uses and values of your property; or
- You find yourself in any other situation where you could use the knowledge and the expertise of an attorney with experience in this area.
For advice tailored to your specific property and situation, you can reach the experienced attorneys at Grimes Yeoman by phone at (704) 321-4878 or contact us online for more information.