Legal Issues - Zoning Issues

Zoning regulations, and the approach to zoning regulations, vary widely county by county. The variations are so large and complicated that I can't write this page in a general format. Suffice to say that nearly every county has its own set of zoning regulations that apply to every structure and its' use within the county, except for lands administered by the federal government, lands within municipal corporation boundaries, and except as may be otherwise prohibited by federal or state law.

Zoning regulations may also change as time goes on. In most counties, just because you see horses in a field, it doesn't mean that the property is zoned agricultural. The zoning rules may have changed and if ownership of the property changes, the new zoning rules may automatically apply and horses may now be verbotten. The same goes for business uses of a property.

There are also differing rules governing subdivision and subdivisions themselves may have their own rules. In the end, whichever set of rules is more restrictive is usually the set of rules that prevails. Quite often, the only way to determine what is what is to go down to your local county Department of Planning & Zoning with your property's legal description and have a conversation with the Zoning Officer.

Nearly every county also has its' own Land Use Guide with its' own set of regulations. Again, the only real way to find out what you need to know is to go to your local county offices and ask. Be prepared to spend some time on this, it can save you much money, time and effort in the end. And never, ever rely on hearsay: what the real estate agent said, what the neighbor said, what the contractor you met at the lumber yard yesterday said. If you don't have a legible record on paper from a reputable source, you won't have a leg to stand on if you end up in a court situation. And even then...

Go to the county offices and get your info directly from the horse's mouth. In my experience, most of the folks who are behind that desk or counter are truly there to help. Give them the chance, save yourself a lot of trouble. It's a great way to meet local folks and helps to build positive relationships. logo
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