What is the process to address "outdoor storage" violations?
The City receives a referral or complaint, or a Code Enforcement inspector views a possible outdoor storage violation while canvassing his or her assigned area. A closer inspection is done, and a decision is made as to whether it constitutes “outdoor storage”. If a violation exists, the inspector takes photographs of it. Ownership is verified and an electronic tracking “file” is created. Photographs are stored as evidence should court action become necessary later.
A certified “Notice of Violation” letter is sent to the property owner with a description of the items that need to be removed. The allotted compliance time is 10 days. If during this time the owner calls and asks for an extension, it may be granted based upon the facts of the case or any extenuating circumstances. The inspector revisits the property at the deadline to determine if the order has been complied with. If the property is in compliance, the “case” is closed.
If compliance has not been achieved, more photos are taken, and the owner is summoned to General District Court. Once this is done, several weeks may elapse before a court case can be scheduled. The judge renders a decision on the violation. Generally on the first court date, the defendant is granted more time to abate the violation. At the second or third hearing in court, a fine is usually levied.
If the defendant is fined and the violation has not been abated, the inspector may file another summons after a minimum of 10 days has elapsed. Ten (10) days is the time period allowed by the court to note an appeal. The court process is continued until compliance is achieved.
Note: In some cases it may take several months for the process to play out before the violation is actually corrected. During this time, remember that the City is actively pursuing correction of the violation. The inspector handling the case will be able to provide information about it.