Enforcement Living in a non-dwelling - who's responsible for enforcement?

gtpeach

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#1
We got a notice of a zoning violation that someone is illegally living in a non-inhabitable building. It's basically a workshop and apparently there are people spending living in it. I don't know if that's really a zoning violation, though. I would think it would be more of a building code violation, but the Building Official doesn't want to touch it, either.

Anyone else dealt with that from a zoning perspective?
 

AG74683

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#2
Building code would absolutely be the bigger animal here. There are a litany of violations one could hit on with this. Building codes are generally a matter of state law too, so the Building Official may be legally compelled by general statute to touch it, whether he wants to or not. There's no weaseling out of enforcement of a state code like there may be with a local zoning code too.
 
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#3
Yeah this is something that gets turned over the code officials. It's a life safety thing and unless that's part of your charge pass it on. I'm continually amazed at your stories of people in your organization who don't want to do their job.
 

gtpeach

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#4
Yeah this is something that gets turned over the code officials. It's a life safety thing and unless that's part of your charge pass it on. I'm continually amazed at your stories of people in your organization who don't want to do their job.
I discussed this with the attorney and the county administrator and told them I thought it was a building code issue. They agreed. The Building Official says that we allow people to stay in other non-habitable buildings, though (stand alone buildings without kitchens are allowed as part of a b&b in our zoning ordinance), so he doesn't think that the building just being non-habitable is grounds for a building code violation. That's a poor argument in my opinion, because while the structure for the B&B situation is not a complete dwelling, it's also not being used for permanent residency and is clearly only approved as part of a larger use...

But I don't think it's my job to convince another county manager to enforce their own code.
 

AG74683

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#7
he doesn't think that the building just being non-habitable is grounds for a building code violation.
Then frankly, he's an idiot and I question his competency entirely. That's an asinine argument. A non-habitable building is just that, not for habitation, it's literally the definition of the word! That said, there is a difference between non-habitable and non-habitable for residential use.Non-habitable implies the building is unsuitable for any purpose, while in this case it appears the building is just unsuitable for residential (dwelling) use. Could also be an issue for Environmental Health if there are unaddressed issues of public waste.

Technically, yes, it is an issue for many departments, but the quickest and easiest method to move them out of the building is from the Inspections Department. First and foremost, they are the "life safety" defenders.
 

Otis

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#8
the building official and the fire marshal both have responsibility. And liability if they know about it and don't act.
 

gtpeach

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#9
the building official and the fire marshal both have responsibility. And liability if they know about it and don't act.
We just use the state fire marshal. Maybe I should pass it on to him and let him worry about it!
 

gtpeach

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#10
Fun update. I went out so I could say that I followed up on the request not expecting to be able to actually prove anything one way or the other. I did see some lines running out of the window to a box in a tree and also from the RV to the "pottery shop," so I took photos of that. I was about to leave and all the people came out. Told me they lived there. Invited me in to show me that it's been converted to a house. I took photos showing that there was a kitchen and bathroom that had been installed. Came back to the office, and sure enough, we have no records of it being converted to a house! Also, they don't have enough property to have a second house on the property!

So I guess it is my problem to deal with now...
 
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#12
Fun update. I went out so I could say that I followed up on the request not expecting to be able to actually prove anything one way or the other. I did see some lines running out of the window to a box in a tree and also from the RV to the "pottery shop," so I took photos of that. I was about to leave and all the people came out. Told me they lived there. Invited me in to show me that it's been converted to a house. I took photos showing that there was a kitchen and bathroom that had been installed. Came back to the office, and sure enough, we have no records of it being converted to a house! Also, they don't have enough property to have a second house on the property!

So I guess it is my problem to deal with now...
Perhaps, but I'm sure this is still part of the Building Official's job for enforcement. Don't let him off the hook on doing his job.
^^ Plus how can "lines running out of the window to a box in a tree and also from the RV to the pottery shop" NOT be a Building Code issue??

Whatever happened here? Anything?
 

gtpeach

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#13
^^ Plus how can "lines running out of the window to a box in a tree and also from the RV to the pottery shop" NOT be a Building Code issue??

Whatever happened here? Anything?
I sent a zoning violation letter and told them they'd need to remove the kitchen, relocate the occupants, and get building inspections for everything else and copied the building official on it.

I have some thoughts about the BO, but basically, there was another situation that popped up that I took the lead on and then it turned out there wasn't a zoning violation but is most likely a building or health code violation. He has shirked a lot of his responsibilities in my opinion, but I'm also not one to pass the buck. So if there's something that's within my realm of responsibility, I'm addressing it. If I can't, then I'll let the responsibility rest with him. He likes to tell me how to do my job. I'm not going to sink to that level, but I'll be sure it's obvious if he's not following up on things he should be.
 
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