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Verbiage on Proposed Zoning Violations Ordinance Changed

Following a public hearing, the Board of Selectmen made several changes to this proposed ordinance that establishes penalties for anyone who violates town zoning regulations.

 

Several small changes regarding the process by which notification would be given to alleged zoning violators were discussed by the Board of Selectmen, thus creating the need to send a proposed zoning ordinance back to the drawing table.

If any changes are made, the town is obligated to hold a second public hearing.

A public hearing was held late last year regarding a proposed ordinance that would establish procedures for penalizing those who violate the town's zoning regulations.

Types of violations include those to home occupations, signage, motor vehicle sales, storage of materials, junk yards and others.

A couple of the changes that the selectmen proposed included:

a)  that any citations sent to alleged offenders should also be sent by certified mail as well as regular mail and;

b)  to change the waiting period from 10 days to 30 days for written warnings to allow residents more time to remedy the violation.

They also made changes to the wording under #3 Violator defined, from "the agent, architect, builder, contractor or any other person who commits, takes part or assists in any such violation or who maintains any building or premises in which any such violation exists, shall be issued a citation for such violation in accordance with the procedures herein."  To "the agent, architect, builder, contractor or any other person who commits, takes part or assists in any such violation and/or who maintains any building or premises in which any such violation exists, shall be issued a citation for such violation in accordance with the procedures herein."

At the meeting, the board voted unanimously to send the ordinance back to Planning & Zoning for review.

 

Here's a copy of the entire ordinance:

Ordinance Establishing A Citation Procedure for Violations of Zoning Regulations

1. Purpose.

The purpose of this ordinance is to establish penalties for violations of Clinton Zoning Regulations, to enable the zoning enforcement officer (the “ZEO”) to issue citations for the types of zoning violations hereinafter specified, and to establish a citation hearing procedure in accordance with C.G.S. § 8-12a and 7-152c.

2. Types of violations for which citations may be issued.
A. Home Occupations
B. Signs
C. Sediment & Erosion Controls
D. Motor Vehicle Sales and Repairs
E. Junk Yards
F. Storage of materials, equipment, etc. without permits
G. Prohibited uses per Section 24 of the Clinton Zoning Regulations

3. Violator defined.
The owner or agent of any building or premises where a violation of any provision of the regulations under section 2 above has been committed or exists, or the lessee or tenant of an entire building or entire premises where such violation has been committed or exists, or the owner, agent, lessee or tenant of any part of the building or premises in which such violation has been committed or exists, or the agent, architect, builder, contractor or any other person who commits, takes part or assists in any such violation or who maintains any building or premises in which any such violation exists, shall be issued a citation for such violation in accordance with the procedures herein.

4. Issuance of Prior Written Warning by Notice of Violation.
A. In those instances where the ZEO deems that there is time to do so and where the ZEO determines that a continuing violation is not causing immediate or significant harm, a written warning in the form of a Notice of Violation shall be sent prior to issuing the citation.
B. Such Notice of Violation shall provide:
(1) Details of the specific violation.
(2) Instructions on how to remedy the violation.
(3) A 10 day period of abatement within which no fine shall accrue.
(4) That the alleged violator may contest his liability at a hearing before a hearing officer by delivering, in person or by mail, written notice of such intent within 10 days of the date of Notice of Violation to said violator.
C. If the violation continues after the period of abatement specified within the Notice of Violation, a citation may be issued in accordance with the provisions herein.
D. A violation of the same character that is repeated within 24 months after the Notice of Violation is deemed a continuing violation and a new citation may be issued without a new Notice of Violation.

5. Amount of fine.
A. No fine imposed under the authority of this section may exceed one hundred fifty dollars for each day a violation continues.
(1) For a violation of any lettered subsection of Section 2 the fine shall be $50.00.
(2) For any subsequent violation of the same subsection the fine shall be $100.
(3) For any further violations of the same subsection, the fine shall be $150.00.
B. In addition to the imposition of a fine, the ZEO may take such other enforcement action as the circumstances warrant.
C. The alleged violator shall be responsible for reporting, in writing, subsequent compliance to the ZEO. Until such time, the fine(s) shall continue to be imposed on a daily basis.

6. Citation
A. For any violation that is not timely abated, or is a continuing violation, a Citation may be issued by the ZEO, which shall contain the following:
(1) The detail of the unabated or continuing violation.
(2) The amount of the fine due.
(a) The fine shall accrue on a daily basis from 2 days following the date of the Citation and the Citation shall so state.
(3) That the alleged violator may contest his liability at a hearing before a hearing officer by delivering, in person or by mail, written notice of such intent within 10 days of the date of Citation to said violator.
(4) That if the alleged violator does not demand such a hearing, an assessment and judgment shall be entered against him.
(5) That such judgment may issue without further notice.

7. Uncontested violations.
A. If the alleged violator or other person to whom a Citation has been sent pursuant to Section 6 above wishes to admit liability for any alleged violation, he may, without requesting a hearing, pay the full amount of the fine in person or by mail to the Zoning Enforcement Officer at the Land Use Office.
B. Any alleged violator or other person who does not deliver or mail a written demand for a hearing to the Clinton Land Use Office within 10 days of the date of the Citation provided in section 6 above shall be deemed to have admitted liability, and the Zoning Enforcement Officer shall certify such person's failure to respond to the hearing officer.
C. The hearing officer shall thereupon enter and assess the fine provided for by law and shall follow the procedures set forth in section 9 below.

8. Hearing procedure.
A. The First Selectman of the Town of Clinton shall appoint one or more citation hearing officers, who shall be other than police officers or employees or persons who issue citations, to conduct the hearings authorized by this section.
B. No ZEO, building inspector or employee of the municipal body exercising zoning authority may be appointed to be a hearing officer.
C. Any person who requests a hearing shall be given written notice of the date, time and place for the hearing.
D. Such hearing shall be held not less than 15 days nor more than 30 days from the date of the mailing of such notice, provided that the hearing officer shall grant, upon good cause shown, any reasonable request by an interested party for postponement or continuance.
E. An original or certified copy of the initial notice of violation issued by a police officer or other issuing officer shall be filed and retained by the Town, shall be deemed to be a business record within the scope of C.G.S. § 52-180 and evidence of the facts contained therein.
F. The presence of the Zoning Enforcement Officer shall be required at the hearing if such person so requests.
G. The alleged violator or other person wishing to contest liability shall appear at the hearing and may present evidence in his behalf. The hearing officer may accept from such alleged violator copies of documents by mail and may determine thereby that the appearance of such person is unnecessary. If the alleged violator fails to appear, the hearing officer may enter an assessment of the fine by default against him upon a finding of proper notice and liability under this Ordinance.
H. The Zoning Enforcement Officer, or his designated representative other than the hearing officer, may present evidence on behalf of the Zoning Enforcement Officer.
I. The hearing officer shall conduct the hearing in the order and form and with such methods of proof as he deems fair and appropriate. The rules regarding the admissibility of evidence shall not be strictly applied, but all testimony shall be given under oath or affirmation.
J. The hearing officer shall announce his decision at the end of the hearing. If he determines that the alleged violator or other person is not liable, he shall dismiss the matter and enter his determination in writing accordingly. If he determines that the person is liable for the violation, he shall forthwith enter and assess the fine against such person as provided by this Ordinance.

9. Further Enforcement
A. If such fine assessment is not paid on the date of its entry, the hearing officer shall:
(1) Send by first-class mail a notice of the fine assessment to the person found liable; and
(2) Shall file, not less than 30 days nor more than 12 months after such mailing, a certified copy of the notice of fine assessment with the Clerk of the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Middlesex, together with an entry fee of $8.
B. The certified copy of the notice of fine assessment shall constitute a record of the fine assessment.
C. Within such twelve-month period, fine assessments against the same person may be accrued and filed as one record of fine assessment.
D. The clerk of the court shall enter judgment in the amount of such record of fine assessment and court costs of $8 against such person in favor of the Town.
E. Notwithstanding any other provision of the General Statutes, the hearing officer's fine assessment, when so entered as a judgment, shall have the effect of a civil money judgment and a levy of execution on such judgment may issue without further notice to such person.

10. Appeal
A. The person against whom an assessment has been entered pursuant to this Ordinance is entitled to judicial review by way of appeal.
B. An appeal shall be instituted within 30 days of the mailing of notice of such fine assessment by filing a petition to reopen the fine assessment, together with an entry fee in an amount equal to the entry fee for a small claims case pursuant to General Statute § 52-259, in the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Middlesex, which shall entitle such person to a hearing in accordance with the rules of the judges of the Superior Court.

11. Disposition of Money Received.
All monies received pursuant to the procedure set forth herein shall be payable to the treasurer of the Town of Clinton.

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