Zoning and land use regulations have become one of the most powerful ways of controlling what goes on in a community. The sheer number of zoning ordinances and land use regulations has increased exponentially in many communities. And most community members have no idea just how much this area of regulation has grown until a code enforcement officer serves them with a zoning violation notice.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being on the receiving end of a zoning violation notice, here are three things you should know:
- Zoning violations are usually addressed on a complaint basis. Code enforcement officers are typically responding to someone else’s complaint about how you allegedly violated an ordinance. Some communities promise to investigate every complaint they receive and keep the complaining party’s information confidential so as to encourage people to report violations.
- Most zoning violations are addressed through violation notices and fines. A code enforcement officer may initially provide you with an informal notice regarding the alleged violation in hopes you correct the violation without further action. Depending on the severity of the violation, the officer may provide you with a formal notice of violation which typically identifies the ordinance you are alleged to have violated and the consequences you face if you do not correct the violation. The consequences typically involve citations or tickets that fine you for each offense, which may be measured by each day or week the violation continues.
- Zoning violations may be taken to court and prosecuted as quasi-criminal or criminal matter.Depending on the severity and extent of the violation, the local government may prosecute the violation in the local circuit court where they may ask the judge to force your compliance on pain of further financial penalties or even jail time.
If you have received a zoning violation notice and want to better understand your rights and options going forward, please contact the attorneys at Dalton & Tomich. We have helped a wide variety of clients resolve alleged zoning violations in an efficient and effective manner.