When Zoning Codes Change Unexpectedly

Even when homeowners are in strict compliance with zoning rules, they can sometimes suffer if neighborhood or town regulations change unexpectedly. That's what happened to Linda Morris, who moved to The Colony, Texas, three years ago to be near her daughter and son-in-law. She bought a brand-new house in a development bordered by woodland. The real estate agent told her that the town planned to turn the surrounding property into a park. Even if that didn't happen, the tract was zoned for business use, so Morris figured at worst she might have a small shopping center or professional complex for a neighbor.

She ended up getting a neighbor — but not the type she wanted. Last December, The Colony city council approved a zoning change for the land bordering Morris's street that will allow a developer to construct 15 buildings for light industrial manufacturing and warehouse use. Soon, the roads will be busier, the neighborhood will be noisier, and, what's worse, Morris says, "the value of my house will drop. This house was supposed to be my retirement vehicle."

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