If you are involved in developing land for commercial or residential use, chances are you know zoning can be tricky. To navigate the complexities of land and environmental regulations, you’ll need a trusted property attorney. But when should you hire one?
What is Zoning Law?
Local governments often divide the land into zones with specific intended purposes. These zones carry restrictions on the types of businesses or dwellings that are allowed to operate or be built in the area.
For example, some residential zones only allow single-family detached homes to be built in the neighborhood, with no apartment buildings or duplexes allowed. Other zones may allow businesses or industrial sites. Some zones promote mixed usage, in which an area includes both residential and commercial space.
If you own or plan to acquire property, zoning restrictions may affect what is allowed in your neighborhood. This can include everything from the noise level to the heights of buildings that surround your property.
Cities and counties often have complex zoning laws, and restrictions may change over time. It’s important to talk to a legal expert before purchasing or developing any property.
Aspects of Land Use and Zoning Law
Land use law includes a broad range of activities and concerns. Here are just a few situations in which you may need help from an attorney:
- Prospective purchaser agreements
- Environmental audits
- Compliance counseling
- Regulatory representation
- Representation in land use actions
- Land acquisitions
- Agency negotiations
We advise and represent clients on a wide variety of matters related to zoning and land use. At Anderson Hunter, we can help with all aspects of due diligence, planning, permitting, hearings, and appeals.
Like a checkup with a doctor to ensure that your health is in good shape, an environmental audit helps ensure you are in compliance with environmental law. Audits should evaluate environmental management systems, verify compliance with legal requirements, and assess risk from practices and materials.
You don’t want to be surprised by development restrictions after you’ve already purchased your property. Consulting with a property attorney from Anderson Hunter can help you understand any restrictions that could cause problems for you in the future or erode the value of your property.
Hiring a Lawyer for Land Use and Zoning Matters
While environmental and related legal matters can be extremely complex, the steps to resolving a case are generally the same. After you contact a lawyer for a consultation, the following process will begin:
- The lawyer will gather as much relevant information about your case and the surrounding regulations as possible.
- A resolution may be found through a meeting between your lawyer, yourself, and the city or country in which your land is located.
- If the parties above cannot come to an agreement in this meeting, the matter will go through a dispute resolution process involving a hearing examiner.
Even if the hearing doesn’t go in your favor, you still have the option to appeal through the land use petition process. It is possible for a case to reach higher courts through the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA).
Regardless of the situation, it’s important to go in with realistic expectations. Your lawyer will help you interpret land use laws and codes to set expectations and build a plan.
Land Use Counsel in Western Washington
If you own a business or property affected by zoning and land use laws, trusted legal counsel can help you save time and money. Your property attorney should be well-versed in local issues and regulations. At Anderson Hunter, we have over 100 years of experience in Snohomish County and serve clients throughout Western Washington.
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