The house next door to me was purchased by a church group who want to build a church and parkinglot on the property, even though it wasn't zoned for that.They used their (illegal) tax exemption to pay for multiple petitions, all voted down.Then they decided to file suit against the county, and in a rushed decision the county voted the petition in.
Is there any action I can take against the county or the church to make up for the documented loss of property value in similar cases?
1 Answer from Attorneys
I am not sure whether there is anything you can do now. Your "voice" was more a benefit during the course of the petition process. To evaluate the circumstances, an attorney would need to evaluate the local zoning, special use and variance considerations.
The beginning premise is that someone who owns property has a right to use it, absent illegal activity, as they like. Limitations by local governments (zoning laws) are a restriction on that right to use one's own property, but such restrictions have been allowed since they provide an orderly plan (residential neighborhoods, agricultural areas, industrial neighborhoods, ...), meaning, for example, that you generally will not have a pig farm or manufacturing facility between two apartment buildings.
Sometimes there are uses that are not consistent, but that fit and therefore are allowed provided the conditions are right. That is often the case with churches since they are not inconsistent with a residential neighborhood, but may create issues that must be addressed such as off-street parking, drainage, ...
In our society, churches, mosques, and similar organizations have rights that have been specifically considered and municipalities must be cautious not to infringe on those rights in the name of zoning. Perhaps there was some element of that which led to the lawsuit and the prompt reconsideration.
It would be best that you find an experienced, well-recommended attorney to consult.