Orono Jails Man Over Zoning Law Violations
(Image source: StarTribune)
Minnesota property owners work hard for their property. They pay their mortgage, the taxes, for repairs and more. With the work and money that people put into their property, they are often under the impression that they can use their property in any way that they choose.
However, this isn’t always the case. Zoning laws are enacted in every Minnesota city that define how certain land can and can’t be used. These laws can prevent commercial activities in residential areas, for example. The penalties for violating zoning laws can be serious, and as one Minnesota man recently learned, can include jail time.
The 49-year-old Orono, Minnesota man was cited by the city for violating ordinance 78-1577. This ordinance controls outdoor storage in residential neighborhoods. Those found in violation of the ordinance can be charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced to jail.
In this case, in May 2010, the city claimed that the man had too much stored on the outside of his property. Inspectors claimed that the property was littered with construction debris, furniture, ladders, tires, shelving, buckets, tarps and old cars. According to reports, the city decided to prosecute in late 2010. In 2011, the man received probation for the violation. This year, however, a judge again decided that the man was not in compliance with the ordinance and he was sentenced to five days in jail.
While the jail sentence in this case is unusual, it is not uncommon for Minnesota cities to punish property owners to ensure regulatory compliance. In situations where property owners are having issues with zoning laws and other ordinances, they should know their legal rights. With the right help, people can appeal city decisions and use their property as they see fit.
Source: The Star Tribune, “Cities have power to put people in jail for zoning violations,” James Eli Shiffer, Aug. 3, 2014