Land Use Laws – Easements, Zoning, and Eminent Domain


If you are planning to buy or develop land, it’s important to be aware of the various land use laws that may apply to it. These laws include easements, zoning laws, and eminent domain, and they can impact what you can do with a given piece of property.

In this article, we’ll explain the difference between each of these types of land use laws and how they can impact your plans for a plot of real estate.


An easement grants someone access to a piece of property without owning it. For example, utility companies often have easements on the property, allowing them to access it in order to maintain power, water, gas, and phone lines that may be on the land.

Easements may also take other forms, of course, and they may even be informal, such as allowing access to a path through a backyard or an agreement to share a driveway. More formal easements include historic preservation and conservation easements, which prevent owners from modifying a property in a way that diminishes its historic significance.

An easement may be permanent, remaining in place as the property changes ownership. It’s important to be aware of what easements exist on a piece of property before developing it so that you can avoid infringing upon other parties’ interests in the property.

Zoning Laws

Zoning laws limit what can be done with a piece of property. Their main purpose is to guide the development of properties to conform with specific zones, such as residential, commercial, and industrial zones. These laws limit the types of buildings allowed on a given plot of land, how large or tall they can be, where utility lines may be placed, and so forth.

Zoning laws vary by location, so it’s worth checking with a local municipality to see what’s permitted in your area.

Eminent Domain

Eminent domain refers to the government’s power to seize private property for the public good. For instance, they may take a piece of property in order to build a highway. When they do this, they must be able to show that it is necessary for the public good and fairly compensate the property owner for the land.

When purchasing property, it’s important to keep the eminent domain in mind. If it seems like the location would be likely to be seized by the government, then it may be worth avoiding. Conversely, if the government attempts to take land without adequate justification for doing so, you can take legal action.

Developing Real Estate in a Lawful Way

Whether you’re building on development land or simply making minor improvements, it’s important to keep local and state land use laws in mind. These laws tend to vary from place to place, including from city to city. If you’re looking for legal guidance when developing real property in Illinois, you’ll want to consult with a real estate attorney. Hart David Carson LLP can help you keep within the bounds of local regulations when developing land. For the legal aid you need, contact us today.

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