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Thread: Coordination with code enforcement

  1. #1
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Coordination with code enforcement

    the code enforcement officer/building inspector resides in my department offices but does not report to me but to the fire department

    it seems like alot of people in here have code as part of your "domain"

    for those of you that have it separate like me, how does it work for you?

    most of the time it actually works fine, it just gets odd when:
    1. i don't agree with her interpretation on something and i have to forward it anyway, or
    2. if she doesn't like a zoning change i'm working on because she doesn't like change (we've always done it this way kind of thing), or
    3. when a mistake is made, avoiding the blame game (unprofessional, imho) without taking the hit all by yourself

    luckily, this doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's just, well, odd - as in the situation at hand shows that the position shouldn't be separate

  2. #2
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    We have a "Planning & Zoning Department" that handles code enforcement, me being that person.

    I think it makes sense to have us planners act as the code enforcement officers because we know the ins and outs of the zoning and municipal ordiances better than any of our building inspectors. Also, many times, violations involve site plans, special use permits, etc., which we have all the info. on.

    I'm hoping for the day when we can hire a full time code enforcement person.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  3. #3
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    The distinction of labour here is insane, here is the general layout of our "dpartment":

    Commisioner of Planning

    Department of Policy Planning / Urban Design
    Department of Development Planning - split 3 ways Committee of Adjustment/Development/Urban Design
    Building Standards department - split into Zoning and Building Permits
    Inspection Services - for Building Inspection

    If there are any problems then you need to contact By-law Enforcement.

    The Planners in the Development Department do not interpret the By-law, nor do they do comprehensive site plan reviews, a person in the Building Department does that.

    Looking back at hill billy land, was not to bad. I agree that planners should work as by-law enforcers and work with building officials so they understand things better and how things relate to one another.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  4. #4
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    We have a part-time code enforcement officer (former cop) who works in the Building Department Monday - Thursday 8:30 - 4:30. He coordinates with my department regularly on enforcement issues, and takes me to court with him as an "expert witness" occasionally for cases.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  5. #5
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Maister and I are Zoning and Code Administrators. Our department houses Neighborhood Services, Planning, GIS and mapping and Economic Development, and Building Services. The NS and Planning sections are in the same room, but there is still some communication concerns. But being that we do both Zoning and Codes, it is much easier because there will often be both zoning and code violations at one place.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  6. #6
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Maister and I are Zoning and Code Administrators. Our department houses Neighborhood Services, Planning, GIS and mapping and Economic Development, and Building Services. The NS and Planning sections are in the same room, but there is still some communication concerns. But being that we do both Zoning and Codes, it is much easier because there will often be both zoning and code violations at one place.
    wow - so you provide both enforcement and planning services? that's pretty amazing - i can barely keep up with my permitting baords with the planning work i have going...

  7. #7
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    we have a code enforcement dept. that does not understand our codes. They know very little about our code except for the basic no-no's such as open lot storage and commercial vehicles in residential neighborhoods. As a result major zoning violations go unnoticed. There is virtually no communication between the planning dept. and code enforcement and it is a complete and utter disaster.

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    Based on 32 years of watching how this works in many different places, I would never take a job where planning and enforcement are separate. Also, building and planning should be together - as mskis points out, this really helps in consistent enforcement. Your scale of operations is small enough that the communication issues hilldweller is talking about isn't likely, but there is little use of writing a plan, or writing conditions of approval that your ZA doesn't agree with. They won't be enforced.

    In thinking about your situation and time for enforcement (or to supervise that function, which can be quite time-consuming at certain times), I think about resort communities out West that have much the same population and number of park visitors. They all have larger staffs.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Code enforcment is a critical part of the planning department. It doesn't matter so much who does it, but there must be a good line of communication between the two functions. We hold weekly code enforcement/planning meetings, so everyone knows what is going on and we can give advice, alternate positions, etc on difficult situations.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Lee!

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    In thinking about your situation and time for enforcement (or to supervise that function, which can be quite time-consuming at certain times), I think about resort communities out West that have much the same population and number of park visitors. They all have larger staffs.
    Can I quote you? It's budget time!

  11. #11

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    Sure. We have four planners for a town of 8,300 here in Williston and we don't have 2 million park visitors (we do have 3,000 more jobs than residents, so its somewhat similar). I think that allows you at least two given all your seasonal housing.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cololi
    Code enforcment is a critical part of the planning department. It doesn't matter so much who does it, but there must be a good line of communication between the two functions. We hold weekly code enforcement/planning meetings, so everyone knows what is going on and we can give advice, alternate positions, etc on difficult situations.
    RIight On,That is the way to do it. And this has been my complaint, I do the CE on a part time basis, and no one and I mean no one , whether the p/t BUidling Insp(who I have never met after one year on the job) or City Mgr or Planning and Zoning Admin, none of these people feel it is neccessary to communicate in a proactive way regarding CE,(surrepitious bitter voice mails about tall grass does not count), whateveh I work in the invisible office! I write memos, barge into offices, and have generally begged to have a face to face meeting and to discuss issues. Not even the Zoning Admin feels the need to communicate at all. It makes the job so much worse, i feel like an overpaid metermaid sometimes!

  13. #13
    Well ... there's code enforcement and there's zoning enforcement and the two are not related IMO. Where we, here in my office, are so deficient is in the ability to ensure that stipulations placed on zoning approvals are implemented.

    Obviously, there are those front end stipulations that I can withhold the BP for, but then we have no one inside the office that can get out to the site(s) on a regular basis during construction to field-verify things are being done properly. Occasionally we can compel the city engineer to look at things, but mostly he's sleeping on the job. We all know that after it's built, it's a lot harder to compel compliance.

    We are not permitted to require performance bonds (unless it's part of a public dedication such as a new street), so what I'd like to know is: how do you establish a system to ensure compliance, without hiring new staff (just not an alternative here)?
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