Zoning and Land Use Issues

May 4, 2011
Zoning and Land Use Issues

Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution establishes that the right to own private property is subject to “measures asdictated by the public interest…,” in the manner that competent authorities, at the federal, state and municipal levels,deem necessary in order to impose the “necessary measures to maintain order in human settlements and establishadequate provisions, uses, reservations and purposes for land, waters and forests…” The Mexican territory is subjectto a complex legal framework with coordination deficiencies among the different levels of government and gaps inthe implementation of laws in this area. The foregoing entails the need to carefully review land use and zoningauthorizations in commercial, industrial, tourist, residential and all other types of real estate projects. The MexicanFederal Government primarily intervenes in the determination of land use when establishing urban development plansand in the approval of land uses subject to environmental matters arising from the nature of the project itself or theenvironmental impact that may result from developing property on forest land. Mexican states have the authority toestablish urban development laws applicable within their territorial limits which establish the types of land use permitted, and the rules for approval of specific land uses, among other matters. This legal framework is the startingpoint for municipalities to create urban development plans within their jurisdictions which includes the assignment ofspecific land uses pursuant to zoning regulations, compatibility, construction density, and other aspects. In themajority of cases, state urban development laws and municipal urban development plans have provisions establishingthat any action contrary to a determined land use contained in an urban development plan is invalid. This underscoresthe importance of confirming compatibility of land use with the applicable urban development plan, and obtaining thespecific land use approval corresponding to a project. The foregoing should be done concurrently with thedetermination of environmental implications and compatibility of the project with the respective local and federalenvironmental authorities.

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