If your municipality believes you have violated its zoning ordinances, you may receive what is known as an “enforcement notice.” The enforcement notice is required under the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), which is the statute that enables municipalities to adopt zoning and land use ordinances. The enforcement notice is required to provide you with specific information including the zoning ordinances you are alleged to have violated.
You have 30 days from receipt of the enforcement notice to either bring your property into compliance or file an appeal with the municipality’s zoning hearing board. The purpose of issuing the enforcement notice is to obtain compliance. In that regard, if you contact the municipality’s zoning officer, he or she should be able to provide guidance on bringing your property into compliance with the zoning ordinance. However, if you believe that your use of the property is not in violation of the zoning ordinance or you want relief from the requirements of the ordinance, you must file an appeal/application with the municipality’s zoning hearing board.
The filing of an appeal within 30 days of receipt of the enforcement notice is critically important for two reasons. First and foremost, if you fail to file an appeal, the enforcement notice may well be considered conclusive and binding with regard to the alleged violation. Second, if you fail to file an appeal, 30 days expire, and you continue to use your property in the manner which is alleged to violate the municipality’s zoning ordinance, you may be fined up to $500.00 per day for each day the violation continues.
Zoning ordinances may be difficult to read and understand, especially where there are numerous cross references to other sections of the ordinance. If you would like to discuss your receipt of an enforcement notice, or other matters involving your municipality’s zoning ordinances such as appealing the denial of a permit or making an application to the zoning hearing board, please contact us.