Can your City, Township, or Village tell you how to use your land through some sort of Zoning Ordinance or other regulation?

Well, the answer is NO! But it is a little more complicated than that.

First off you must understand that any regulation of the use or development of real estate is a restriction. For example, your City decides to pass a new Zoning Ordinance that regulates you having your boat on the property. Because the city decides that having boats on property is unsightly and will result in a decrease in property values for the neighborhood as a whole. But your boat has been there for the past 5 years. You’re protected.

Zoning regulations are designed to gradually eliminate non-conforming uses within the zoned area. So, the idea is that over time the City can eliminate the conduct (which in this case is your boat) from depreciating the value of the neighborhood. In other words, the land use regulation applies to new or modified uses of land, but does not apply retroactively. Which means if you want to start a manufacturing business in an area that is not zoned and you do so by abiding by all of the requirements and regulations for the City, and 10 years later, they decide that they want your area to be zoned residential. You’re protected.

This Protection is commonly called “grandfathering” or “legal nonconforming use” of the property. So, if your local government has made changes to how you can use your land, then you may be protected by the Legal Nonconforming Use of the land. Ohio Revised Code 713.15 allows the lawful use existing at the time of enacting a zoning ordinance or an amendment to be continued unless the nonconforming use is voluntarily discontinued. Which means that you can abandon your nonconforming use/grandfathered status if you discontinue to use the property in the nonconforming manner.

There is one exception which is that if a land-use restriction creates a nuisance affecting the public health, safety, morals, or general welfare, then it may prohibit use retroactively.

If your local city, township, village, or municipality is trying to force you into changing how you use your land feel free to call us to schedule a Free Telephone Strategy Session at 740.346.2899.