According to FindLaw, New York was the first state to adopt zoning regulations and restrictions back in 1916, which allowed the state to control and direct the development of property within its borders. Since then, several other states, including Florida, have followed suit. Though zoning is often done for the greater good, restrictions on the power of government to regulate land use do exist. One might use these restrictions as the basis to challenge a zoning ordinance.
Municipalities use zoning to combine commercial, industrial and residential districts that would have otherwise remained separate. The goal of zoning is to create zones in which the use is reasonably uniform. For instance, zoning might allow a city in Florida to separate the residential and industrial districts with an upscale commercial center.
Florida, like all other states that enforce zoning rights, must abide by certain restrictions. Those restrictions are typically in regard to the location of utility lines, the types of buildings allowed in certain zones, size and height of buildings, the number of rooms a building may possess and additional building requirements.
In addition to having to abide by strict requirements, governments must demonstrate they have good reason to act upon their zoning rights. Before courts will condone zoning, a government body must prove that the process is not arbitrary and that it will greatly improve the health, comfort, safety, morals and general welfare of the public.
Given the subjective nature of these factors, there is plenty of room for zoning contest. Zoning decrees must be reasonable based on all factors, including the purpose of the restriction; the municipality’s need; the size, location and physical characteristics of the land; the effect on the value of the property; and the existing character of the neighborhood. The rationale for zoning is that it promotes the betterment of the entire community. There are plenty of ways in which a property owner can contest that a particular zoning ordinance does not do one or more of these things.
Additionally, zoning inherently goes against a property owner’s rights under the Fourth Amendment, which state that the government may not take a private property for public use without just compensation. How far can a government body go before it infringes on that inherent right?
To safeguard both the peoples’ and the government’s rights, many jurisdictions have boards that handle zoning appeals. These boards conduct hearings with sworn witness testimonies. Their decisions are subject to the review of a higher court.
The content is this article is not for legal purposes. It is for educational purposes only.