As the weather starts to get warmer, many people consider different ways in which they can improve their property. This could be an addition to their home, a covered patio, or a shed in their backyard. Regardless of the type of improvement, one must always consider whether any additional permits or other requirements are needed for the project in order to comply with local zoning laws.
Generally speaking, local zoning laws carry an array of requirements ranging from how far structures must be set back from the property lines to the types of accessory uses permitted on a property. Many homeowners are unaware of the extent of their local zoning codes, but ignorance is not a defense if one violates the code. In addition, the consequences for noncompliance can be more severe than a mere fine.
Ohio statutory law provides local governments with a variety of remedies for zoning code violations, many of which can create extreme hardships on the homeowner. For instance, local governments are permitted to seek injunctive relief against the homeowner. This means that the homeowner must cease all activities that are in violation of the zoning code. If the homeowner is unable to do so, he or she will be held in contempt of court, which can lead to harsh fines and other sanctions. Further, Ohio statutes allow for local governments to remove a non‑complying structure entirely, which means that the time spent and costs of materials incurred by the homeowner are completely lost.
The soundest way to ensure that a homeowner complies with all zoning requirements when undertaking an improvement project is to check with the local zoning department before starting any work. Should the project not comply with local zoning laws, the homeowner has the option of seeking additional permits, such as a conditional use permit or variance, that will allow the homeowner to complete the project as an exception to what is typically required by the zoning code. Any questions in reviewing or achieving zoning code compliance? Let us know.