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Thread: Ever complain about a zoning violation as a citizen?

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Mar 1996
    Upstate New York
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    Ever complain about a zoning violation as a citizen?

    On Friday, the fire hall down the street from me put up a new monument sign. With an electronic message center. With animated images and quickly cycling text. Which is visible from my living room and front patio.

    Regarding electronic message centers, the town zoning code has the following regulations:

    (1) Message center signs may be included as a part of a permitted freestanding sign in any nonresidential district.

    (2) The information displayed on a message center sign for advertisement purposes shall remain static for a period of no less than ten minutes. The display of time and temperature information may change at no less than one minute intervals.

    (3) The transition between successive messages shall be instantaneous and shall not contain such visual effects as fading, dissolve, flashing, or animation.

    (4) Each message displayed shall be complete in itself, without continuation in content to the next message or to any other sign.
    The zoning district is residential. The sign is not static. There's animation; blazing fireballs and the like. The sign displays messages that are incomplete; it takes two or more cycles, about two seconds each, to complete the message.

    I sent off an email to the town supervisor and planning director. The town doesn't normally enforce regulations for electronic message centers, but I tried to make the case that because this is a residential area, and the sign is visible from my living room couch, maybe they could make an exception. I'll let you know what happens.

    In the past, I never reported zoning violations as a resident, even when they were right next door. I really don't want to be "that guy". This sign, though, was too much to ignore.

    Have you ever complained about a zoning violation as a citizen?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
    Nov 2002
    My neighbors and I have only complained about housing code violations about the vacant house on my street.

    The town I live in would need 2 dozen zoning officers to begin to cite all the sign code violators.

    Unfortunately, your town officials might consider the Fire Station a "municipal use" and say they fall under some loophole, but maybe they'll be willing to ease up on the scrolling graphics.

  3. #3
    The summer between semesters when I was in planning school, a developer proposed putting 12 houses on a piece of land behind my mother's house. He street was shaped like an L. The zoning would have allowed it, but he wanted to keep an old farm house on half the land and build the 12 houses on the remaining half so there was a hearing and it was decided that I should speak for the neighbors because I was an "expert". Yeah right.

    It was a small burb. Most of the questions from the zoning board were how often I called my mom, etc.

    The proposal was defeated, the developer leveled the old house (I dont know why he wanted to keep it) and the development actually looks pretty good.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
    Aug 2008
    Comer, GA
    My wife complained in writing about an abandoned house, which resulted in a citation on the departed owner...don't think she was ever served.

    My predecessor as zoning guy here allowed a red digital crawl monument at an elementary school that should not have been. It is infuriating to me as it is a distraction for drivers, right in the middle of all the heavy school traffic. I didn't know till I came into this position that it was so blatant a violation.

    Good luck....if I could see such a thing from my house I would speak up too.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
    Oct 2005
    I've had a mind to on our current neighbors. They have an old Nissan parked in their backyard, way in the back in an area I don't think is their property, most likely it is drainage easement for the HOA. They also cleared the trees to stow it back there. But they are moving soon and I believe the car is either for their high school son or they are holding it for an overseas Marine.

  6. #6
    Oct 2007
    San Diego, CA
    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Have you ever complained about a zoning violation as a citizen?
    I complained on a bonus plaza access obstruction once. The complaint went into a black hole, but 8 months later the obstruction was removed and a sign went up at the site outlining in exhaustive detail how the public space complied with every zoning resolution requirement it's required to. I guess somebody rapped their knuckles.

  7. #7
    Aug 2008
    Jacksonville, FL

    Maybe talk to the folks in charge of the fire station itself?


    Just a thought, but sometimes municipal uses get "free passes" re: code compliance. Maybe if the complaint with the Planning Director goes nowhere, perhaps try talking directly to the Fire Department itself and see if they'd be willing to slow down the changing graphics, and/or eliminate the scrolling messages? Just an idea.

  8. #8
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    I always kid with the local zoning inspector about junk in peoples yards, and grass length. I do so more in the fact that I know him, and his elected officials, and those issues are not a priority.

    If it affected my house, I would be on his case.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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