Perhaps you’ve had plans to improve your property on Lake Minnetonka for some time. You finally have enough funds set aside and are ready to get the project started. Suddenly, it all comes to a screeching halt because of zoning issues.
Zoning laws are complex. If you do not have a background in this specific area of law, it’s always best to seek guidance from someone who does, rather than try to go up against city officials on your own. When it comes to lake property or homes in a residential community, a key factor to being able to continue your project for repair, maintenance or expansion is whether you’re entitled to do so because of nonconformity laws.
What are nonconformity laws, and who do they benefit?
If current zoning codes prevent you from building an addition onto your Lake Minnetonka home or repairing or improving the property, the first thing you’ll want to do is research nonconformity laws to check if any apply to your situation. There are legal non-conformity laws and illegal non-conformity laws. Non-conformity refers to cases where project plans do not meet existing ordinances but comply with ordinances that existed at the onset of the new codes. Illegal non-conformity means a property owner had permission to continue because there was no enforcement of a prior ordinance.
If you can prove that legal non-conformity laws are applicable in your case, you may have a right to continue your project. Should you decide to sell your property, the new owner might also have a right to continue with maintenance, repairs or improvements that do not meet current zoning laws because of legal non-conformity. This is not always the case, however, which is why it’s wise to seek counsel before you act.
Discontinuance laws may be relevant in your case
If the property in question was partially or fully destroyed or not in use of non-conformity rights for more than a year, discontinuance laws may apply, which would mean you would lose non-conformity rights to continue with any project that does not meet current zoning laws, even if there were ordinances in place before the adoption of current codes.
Zoning laws can be confusing for the average property owner to understand. However, if you’ve encountered legal problems because of current ordinances, it’s wise to discuss the issue with someone who can review your case and make recommendations as to what options you might have available to help resolve the problem.