When you're building a homestead or the organic farm of your dreams from the ground up, it's tempting to carry that DIY ethic over to the legal aspects of buying and using property. Unfortunately, trying to figure out complex zoning laws, land use restrictions, and other legal complications related to your project on your own can lead to costly mistakes. Getting advice from the right lawyer can help you settle these four common sustainable living questions the correct way.
It's not a good choice for the squeamish, but modern equipment exists to help you compost the waste produced by you and your family in a safe, clean, and enclosed way. But is it legal? The answer to that question varies depending on the state, city, county, and municipal area you live in. Some areas absolutely ban this kind of waste management equipment in a blanket ban against outhouses, while other regions allow homeowners to do practically anything they like. A local lawyer with knowledge of public health codes will be best equipped to advise you on this particular topic, but you may also be able to find locally tailored advice from a sustainable living or gray water use advocacy group.
Water Use and Reuse
Aside from redirecting waste out of the sewage stream on your property, you can also do a lot to make better use of the gray water generated by cleaner activities like washing dishes and showering. Another popular sustainable living project is gathering rainwater that falls on the roof or ground and storing it for later use. While both are great green practices for helping the environment, they also have an impact on the land around you. This means that many states and counties regulate both gray water applications, such processing ponds or storage tanks, and rainwater catchment gutters and barrels. Again, a lawyer experienced with local water use restrictions will be able to tell you if your ideas are legal in your area and how to adjust your equipment so it does pass muster.
Land Trust Establishment
Living together on one property has undeniable economic, social, and environmental benefits, so it's not surprising that many families and single adults are choosing to come together in land sharing communities. Naturally, sharing property even on a limited basis creates a whole host of complications regarding liability, property sales, misuse, access to separate parcels, and more. Many communities solve a large number of these issues by establishing some sort of land trust or other community holding that creates a legal entity for guiding the growth of the property. Since this kind of arrangement varies in every state, naturally you'll need a trust lawyer in your area, and preferably one with experience in group entities and community organizations.
Building and Zoning Codes
You believe you've found the ideal parcel of untouched land to build your farm on, but halfway through clearing the land you find out from a neighbor that agriculture isn't allowed on your parcel because it's zoned for strictly residential use. Dozens of excited newcomers run into this problem each month, and many are so discouraged they give up entirely. Talking to a real estate lawyer when you begin your search in a particular area is essential to find out what kind of restrictions, zoning categories, and building codes you need to look for. If you already live in an area with restrictive zoning and building codes, you can also get a lawyer's help to campaign and change the laws to your benefit. Many successful sustainable living projects only proceeded after a lengthy battle guided by the help of a knowledgeable legal professional.
Talk to a professional, such as Janet P. Welton, P.A., for more information.