Talk to a Local Zoning Planning & Land Use Attorney
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You will want to do a thorough investigation of the zoning laws in your community before you start or buy a junkyard. Zoning ordinances and regulations are laws that define and restrict how you can use your property. Typically, zoning restricts land use by type of use, height of the structures on the property and position of the structures on the property.
Most often, zoning is carried out by an ordinance that is adopted by a city or county under the authority of a state enabling act. The governing body, with the advice of a planning commission, divides the community into districts, or zones, and adopts land use regulations that vary by district but that are uniform within each district. Typical districting schemes divide the community by basic use types (agricultural, residential, commercial and industrial). Within those use types, district regulations establish varying intensities.
Research Local Zoning Laws
If you are planning on starting or buying an existing junkyard business then you will want to research your city’s zoning laws first to make sure that the business is in compliance. Find out which government body maintains your zoning laws and familiarize yourself with them so you will be prepared to deal with any issues that may arise. Zoning laws may be determined by your city or your county, depending on where you live.
Excluding Junkyards from Residential Zones
Sometimes junkyards are banned from industrial, commercial and residential zones. By adopting a zoning ordinance a municipality can limit junkyard locations to specific areas of the community. If properly drafted, such zoning regulations may even phase out existing junkyards in inappropriate locations.
When zoning is established for an area by a zoning ordinance, that ordinance usually doesn’t eliminate structures already in existence. Thus, if a district is zoned residential, an existing junkyard that is located in that district becomes a nonconforming use site. This business may remain even though it does not fit the predominant classification of real property in the zoning district. However, sometimes zoning enactments require the discontinuance of junkyards when they are nonconforming.