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Thread: Verifying on-going compliance with conditonal approval

  1. #1

    Verifying on-going compliance with conditonal approval

    We have had a spotty track-record for verifying that certain conditions of approval remain enforced. (We're okay with pre-construction and construction requirements -- it's after a Certificate of Occupancy is issued that we run into trouble.) Usually, we rely on neighbors to inform us that someone has done something counter to their approval, after which we investigate and take it from there. I think there has to be a better way.

    Does anyone require an annual re-inspection? How about a letter from the use-holder confirming that they are in compliance? Do you charge a fee for re-inspection?

    I'd like to hear what y'all have to say.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 12 Feb 2008 at 4:53 PM.
    Je suis Charlie

  2. #2
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    We're in the same boat as you. We've identified it as an important issue, but nothing is really done, mainly due to lack of staff.

  3. #3
    this is a huge issue everyone. You work with a developer, they promise certain things as a condition of approval. Then no one ever monitors the situation.

    An answer here would earn a nobel prize in planning.

  4. #4
    Zoning Lord Richmond Jake's avatar
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    You need to load as many conditions as possible on the project that must be met prior to issuance of a certificate of acceptance (or what ever you call it).

    Operational conditions are left to your dedicated, talented, knowledgeable, and effective code compliance staff. In other words, call Stan. These guys are good.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  5. #5
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    we often have issues with this - the big ticket item for us are those things that do not require a building permit - as in "no cut zones" in subdivisions - by example:

    Charlie and Gladys from major metropolitan suburban America move northward to "get away" in to their nice Maine wooded lot then go clear the hell out of it so Gladys can plant all her invasive species in her "gorgeous" garden - meanwhile Thistle and her Hobbit next door in their Leeds-certified mud home with blueberry fields restored in their yard freak out and call us
    though I am no fan of private ways - at least the Homeowners Association is there to be a watchdog - but many an abutter has expressed a concern of how these kind of conditions are watched and they are often noticed after they are done -

    I do require no cut zones on the plat as well as the deed and in any homeowners association documents in the hopes that if not Charlie and gladys know, but perhaps their title attorney will know..

    so I think the answer is write it down on as many documents as you can so that the buyer has a chance to see it.

  6. #6
    luckless pedestrian we do try to get conditions written down everywhere we can -- on the plat, in the covenants, and even through written commitments recorded in the county recorders office. Even then we do get some nitwit clear-cutting a lot, or changing the approved lot grading to facilitate their own drainage schemes (and screwing up drainage for everybody else.)

    The tougher ones are in the older parts of the city where we can only use the written commitments. It's the in-home business, say a salon operator who decides that she's going to add a manicure or massage station to her approved one-chair salon. Then she discovers she needs p/t help, then business grows again and all of a sudden we have a huge headache.

    Jake I know what you mean about pre-approval conditions and we do use them as much as possible, but given my scenario above, what language would you suggest that might work on the front end?
    Je suis Charlie

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    We have had a spotty track-record for verifying that certain conditions of approval remain enforced. (We're okay with pre-construction and construction requirements -- it's after a Certificate of Occupancy is issued that we run into trouble.) Usually, we rely on neighbors to inform us that someone has done something counter to their approval, after which we investigate and take it from there. I think there has to be a better way.

    Does anyone require an annual re-inspection? How about a letter from the use-holder confirming that they are in compliance? Do you charge a fee for re-inspection?

    I'd like to hear what y'all have to say.
    Have them come back to the BZA for renewal of the CU or variance after a year. I've seen this done when there has been doubts with applicant keeping the conditions. Outside of this, turn it over to the Stan squad and make sure of the follow up. Hopefully you have a big enough staff of a Stan squad or a low level planner who is assigned to enforcement. The problem that comes up is what happens if they are not meeting the conditions? As I recall, the Board would have to jerk the approval after a hearing. Then you deal with it as a violation.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  8. #8
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Our approach is much like RJ's. Lots of conditions precedent, prior to final approval.

    We also have construction monitoring through our engineering consultant (paid for by the applicant) to ensure that everything is constructed per plan.

    Attached is a sample Notice of Decision from our community.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    "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

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