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Zoning Officer Gone Rogue ???
Old 11-27-2010, 04:55 PM   #1
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Zoning Officer Gone Rogue ???

The zoning officer in my town does not want to enforce a zoning law that concerns the commercial property next to me. I pointed out to him the part of the codified zoning ordinance, by number and section, that clearly stated the need for X to be done on the property next to me, but he said that since X had not been done by the previous owner, the current owner also did not have to do X. Makes no sense to me.

To make things even weirder, the current property owner has actually done X, "voluntarily", but recently attempted to undo X. The zoning officer says that since the owner did X voluntarily, he is allowed to undo X. Even though the zoning law clearly states X is required.


BTW, the X mentioned above is a "buffer yard", a planting of trees or shrubs along a commercial property line for the purpose of screening out eyesores, noise, and dust from the neighboring residential property.


Seems to me the zoning officer is enforcing whatever he wants to, whenever he wants to.

Anyone else have this experience? Does the zoning officer have any legal basis for not enforcing the law?

Thanks JG III
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Old 11-27-2010, 05:50 PM   #2
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Ah. I work in social services in several small towns in my county. I have found that code enforcement can be highly capricious. I don't know about where you live, but from my experience I cannot say that I am aware that code enforcement officers have any particular qualifications beyond their political connections.
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Old 11-27-2010, 07:43 PM   #3
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If the situation was that way before the law for a buffer zone is adopted, it's possible that the situation was grandfathered-in, meaning that new laws are not applicable.

However, if the new owner did X, the grandfathered-in status is no longer in effect, and he or she should not be able to take it down without replacing it.

If you really care a lot about this, I would ask to speak with the zoning officer's supervisor or the city/town administrator about it. But before you do that, make sure your property doesn't have ANYTHING that could be identified for enforcement. A lot of times the zoning officer will want to find some fault in everyone's property to make everyone feel "equal."
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Old 11-27-2010, 10:12 PM   #4
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The squeaky wheel gets the grease. I faced a similar situation with a neighbor who let his property deteriorate. Code enforcement officer and I talked about the violations and he pooh-pooh-ed them all. After a brief letter writing campaign involving me and some other neighbors, a different inspector came out and found numerous violations. It's been five years since they took him to court, and they still drive by once every few months to look the place over.
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Old 11-27-2010, 10:30 PM   #5
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I would suggest you attend your next city council meeting (or county if that is what you fall under) and bring it up. They usually have a time set aside for public comment. Come prepared with just the facts and try to leave any personal attacks against the zoning officer out of it.
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Old 11-28-2010, 01:10 PM   #6
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Thanks for the ideas and related experiences. I see I'm not alone in this situation.

JG III
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Old 11-28-2010, 04:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zinger1457 View Post
I would suggest you attend your next city council meeting (or county if that is what you fall under) and bring it up. They usually have a time set aside for public comment. Come prepared with just the facts and try to leave any personal attacks against the zoning officer out of it.
I disagree that this should be the next step. it's very likely you'll just get referred back down to staff.

I would first have a conversation with the head of the code enforcement / planning department, then the city manager. If neither of these produced a logical answer to your question on why the code provision is unenforceable, then try council.
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