Property Owner or Developer v. Local Government

Before a parcel of land can be developed, the property owner or developer must obtain the necessary approvals from the local government or designated permitting agency. When such approvals are not forthcoming, the property owner or developer may try to force the approval, or seek compensation for the denial, by filing a civil action.

Forcing the necessary construction approvals (ex. building permits) can take the form of mandamus or declaratory judgment actions. When compensation for the denial is sought, a property owner or developer will likely file a takings action. The takings action in this instance would be based on a regulatory taking and would allege that the local government has so regulated the land that it has essentially taken the property from the owner or developer.

Neighbor v. Neighbor

Land use litigation between neighbors is usually founded on one neighbor's disapproval of the use or imminent use that another neighbor is or will be making of their property. Litigation between residential neighbors can take the form of declaratory judgment actions to force compliance with zoning laws or homeowner association regulations for the neighborhood. Damage actions may also arise where, for example, rather than having a neighbor cut down a tree that now blocks another neighbor's ocean view, compensation is sought for the loss of the view. Likewise, damages could be sought from a neighbor whose installation of a swimming pool has caused a landslide to impede on another neighbor's property.

In addition to controversies between residential neighbors themselves, disputes can arise between the residential neighbors and a commercial entity. For example, residential neighbors may protest the construction of a shopping mall on woodland property abutting their own. These neighbor-type actions usually take the form of a challenge to the re-zoning of the area to allow for the construction.

Local Government v. Property Owner or Developer

Litigation can be initiated by the local governing body against the property owner or developer seeking to enforce established zoning laws or land use regulations. In some instances, local governments seek to enjoin the property owner or developer from constructing a structure that does not comply with the applicable regulations. Likewise, municipalities may pursue an action to compel the property owner or developer to either demolish the non-conforming structure or cure the zoning or land use "defects." The collection of fines and penalties for a property owner's violation of land use regulations may also form the basis for an action by the municipality.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.