When people in Connecticut purchase property, they may have big plans for future development. However, land use and zoning regulations may limit their options for using their real estate. Most urban areas and many other municipalities maintain zoning regulations to determine what types of buildings and activities can be placed in which areas of the city. They often divide the municipality into commercial, residential and industrial zones, although these also may have sub-types that further define specific activities. Further regulations may address the type of structures that can be built, their size and height, their distance from the street and their relation to utility lines.

In some cases, zoning regulations may also define parking needs, street setbacks and yard space. They may also limit the number of units within a multi-family residential property. Still, other regulations may provide special protections for buildings or areas considered historical or culturally significant. In most places, these regulations are designed to support an overall plan for how the area should be developed, via the city’s master plan that also encompasses public facilities, building codes and street management.

Of course, this means that property owners may run up against significant barriers when attempting to launch new uses for their real estate. In many cases, zoning regulations are upheld, but there can be legal disputes over their legitimacy. Property owners may be able to challenge some zoning regulations through a local zoning board appeals process. Even when the regulation is kept intact, individual property owners may be able to seek a variance that allows them an exception to the rule.

Zoning regulations and land use laws are a particularly specific area of regulations that can heavily affect how property is used. A real estate attorney may work with a property owner to challenge zoning regulations or seek a variance for development.