by John Wolforth, Planning and Zoning Director
comments open from April 20 until May 9
Many people are confused, afraid and upset when they receive a zoning violation, and the penalty language on the violation form can be quite intimidating. If you have received a zoning violation, the most important step for you to take is to call or email the inspector whose name, email and telephone number are listed on the form. The inspector will be able to describe the best steps to take to correct the violation, or can refer you to the people within the Jeffco Planning & Zoning division that will best be able to assist you.
So what exactly is a zoning violation and why did you receive one in the mail? The Jefferson County Zoning Resolution is a permissive document, which means the various zone districts describe what uses are allowed, but does not tell you what isn't allowed. One of the zoning violations that is most frequently issued is for an inoperable/unlicensed vehicle being stored on residential property. As an example of the permissive nature of the Zoning Resolution, only heavy industrial zone districts allow the storage of inoperable/unlicensed vehicles, residential zone districts do not.
I received a zoning violation, and there is no way I can correct the violation in 10 days.
That is exactly why it is so important to contact the inspector as soon as you receive the notice. By contacting the inspector you may well be able to make arrangements to have more time to correct the violation, and can possibly avoid the fines that can be assessed if the zoning violation is taken to county or district court.
Do county inspectors just drive around looking for violations?
No, they do not. The zoning violation program is a complaint-based system, unless an inspector witnesses a situation that poses an imminent threat to public safety. Planning & Zoning staff accept complaints of alleged violations via telephone at 303-271-8725, via the internet or in person at our counter. We do not accept anonymous complaints, and we collect the information from the caller should the inspector require additional information about the complaint. Although the information is collected, it is not shared with anyone and knowing "who" made the complaint doesn't aid in correcting the violation.
Why is there a zoning violation program anyway?
The intent and purpose of the Zoning Resolution is to promote public health, safety and welfare. By having a zoning enforcement program, we are meeting the purpose of Zoning Resolution by protecting property values and ensuring that all residents have the opportunity to enjoy a healthy and happy community.