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I am planning to buy land in Costilla County, Colorado. The land does not have a Homeowners Association or any covenants for the area, which is quite rural. It is zoned for residential use, but they say that no campers or sheds can be stored on the property, except for a 14-day camping period once every 3 months or with a building permit.

I am not planning to move there, but I wanted to store a camper there for when I do visit. They say that this is not allowed because there is no residence currently there. I have never heard of this before, as in most places I have lived, storage of campers is allowed, even if living in a camper is not. The wording is different. Is it legal for the county to enforce this? Can I sue them if they try to enforce it?

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Is this legal for the county to enforce?

Yes.

And can I sue if they try to enforce it?

You could, but you would very likely lose your lawsuit. A more fruitful approach would be to go to the county planning board and seek a variance to permit you to do what you want to do.

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The land has no HOA and no covenants

I get the impression you've been spending too much time around HOAs, or at least around Reddit lol. Get out. Never go back. But that does not mean freedom.

Feds have laws. States have laws. Counties and cities have ordinances. They're laws - they apply to all activity in their jurisdiction. There is no way to "not sign" except "don't buy land in their jurisdiction".

Keep in mind Im not moving there but I was gonna store a camper there for when I did.

The problem there being, you don't vote.

You're not the only one doing what you're doing. It has an effect on the community, and the locals notice, and vote. So they can - and do - write laws to make your life difficult. This is common in vacation areas and places land is dirt cheap.

But it's also common in San Francisco, where apocryphally "half" (so they say) the usable housing is owned by rich foreigners as investments, kept vacant (or as rarely-visited vacation homes). It's messing up the housing market, and the people who do vote are doing stuff about it.

storage of campers

Most municipalities do not allow unregistered vehicles on private property within sight of a road. That's almost everywhere.

They also don't like out-of-state tags on vehicles which actually do reside in the state. (and they don't like registering a car to a PO box, it needs to be a deliverable street address, and the USPS won't deliver to empty land. So they really gotcha.)

sheds

It's extremely common, almost universal, that to build a structure on land, you must get a permit from the government. That has nothing to do with HOAs.

And, the local government probably has public policy agendas they are trying to fulfill. Like maintaining an aesthetic, deterring crime, or preventing certain special problems an area might have. Such as the being a popular vacation spot, a place with a bohemian culture, or a place land is dirt cheap and prone to off-grid dreamers/tiny house/Vanlife homesteaders trying to live out there.

Any pattern that gets to be a problem, they'll make laws.

Again - who votes?

anywhere Ive lived storage of campers is allowed, but a lot of places living in a camper is not.

The places that don't allow living in a camper are concerned with squalor. They don't want inhumane living conditions from trying to live on a mountain with no money - namely lack of sewer/septic, lack of potable water to maintain hygiene, etc. So, they're going to have rules. This will be any town - HOAs don't even enter into it.

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The government has the authority to do this because you don't own the land. Proof of that is you're paying property taxes. If you truly owned the land, then the government would not have the authority to impose a tax on your land.

What you need is a land patent, which is available through the federal government. Then the land is truly your land and you can do whatever you want with it, as long as your actions don't harm anyone.

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  • This is an a legally incorrect answer. All privately owned land in the United States tracks back to a land patent from the federal government (or in some cases to the Mexican, French, Spanish, or British governments that brought the land into private ownership before it was part of the United States).
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 19:21

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