Friday, March 27, 2015

Zoning Enforcement

http://www.provo.org/departments/community-development/zoning
Gary Millward from Provo City's Legal Department recently presented some information at a Council Work Session. Hal Miller, Council Chair at the time of the meeting, requested that the information be shared here on the blog to help Provo residents better understand the process of zoning enforcement.

Zoning enforcement is a two edged sword because the City must balance on one hand the people’s private property interests and on the other hand compliance with zoning ordinances. In Zoning Enforcement, compliance is the main goal. Enforcement efforts apply pressure to bring people into compliance. Most people come into compliance early in the process. The zoning officers are very responsive to any calls that are made concerning zoning issues.

Code enforcement has changed over time. In the past, the zoning officers would spend more time working with the citizen who is out of compliance. The zoning officer would try to bring the citizen into compliance without referring it to the Legal Department. These cases could go on for months allowing time for the citizen to come into compliance. Currently, a notice of violation is sent to violators giving them a certain number of days to come into compliance. When those days are up, the case is referred to the Legal Department for a criminal action to be filed. People generally come into compliance faster under the current system. It may seem a little more oppressive to some of the citizens.

A significant number of citizens come to Mr. Millward expressing their surprise at having a criminal summons for a number of reasons, such as being out of town, not receiving the notice of violation, or they did not know there was a problem. This has created an issue in the Legal Department because significant time is spent filing criminal actions.  The Justice Court simultaneously spends time preparing the cases. A large number of these cases are resolved immediately because of the threat of legal action. The Legal Department has taken steps to reduce this problem by sending out a letter instead of a legal summons indicating the intent to file criminal charges.  The objective of this process is fewer actual filings followed by immediate dismissals while achieving the same goal of bringing properties into compliance.

More information on zoning, including common violations and how to submit a complaint, are available on the Provo City website.

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