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Phillips Esq.
Phillips Esq., Attorney-at-Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 17207
Experience:  B.A.; M.B.A.; J.D.
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I attempted to get a permit to build a 16x20 workshop in my

Customer Question

I attempted to get a permit to build a 16x20 workshop in my backyard. It was initially approved, but later denied by city planning office because I'm on a corner lot and it didn't meet the 20' setback requirement, (the setback is 3' for all other properties). I asked for a variance hearing which took about 3 months to schedule. At the hearing, which consisted of 3 board members instead of 5, I was not given adequate opportunity to present my case, instead, the city planner presented his information about my case, then when it was my turn, the board chairman stopped me and asked the planner to give his opinion, following which I attempted to begin my presentation again, but was cut short with questions. I was not even given ample time for answering, being cut off by board member comments. The chair then said it was time for a vote and promptly denied my request by a vote of 1-2. The city attorney and one board member told me after the hearing it was a disgrace to the city the how badly the hearing was conducted. I met with city leaders to seek remedy but was told there was nothing they could do. I asked about an appeal process but was told it wasn't an option. I was instructed to file an appeal with the city court, but the city court referred me to the county court, who referred me back to the city court. During the following year, several home owners of corner lots erected sheds and workshops that didn't meet the setback requirements, and we're not told to take them down or move them. There are dozens more in my city tha don't meet this requirement, one being on the corner lot right behind me. I also attempted to suggest the ordinance be amended as other cities have done, but was told it wasn't their responsibility. This caused me great frustration, especially since I'd paid about $7,500 to prepare the area for the building, in my fenced back yard. I eventually, out of frustration erected the structure. It took several months, during which time the code enforcement officer was seen by neighbors, parked next to my backyard fence. On Jan. 17, 2016, I received a notice to halt construction until the building was moved, which was a moot point since it was completed. I called code enforcement to explain the situation and was told she'd call me back the following Wednesday to speak about a possible remedy, she never called back. Today, 8/24/16, I received 2 letters from attorneys wanting to represent me in my upcoming misdemeanor code violation hearing, which I've not been informed of by the city yet. I attempted to contact the code inforcement by she refused to speak with me, I also tried to speak with the city attorney but they refused to discuss anything, just wanted me to give them all the evidence I may have. What recourse do I have?
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 2 months ago.

Hello: This is Attorney Phillips. Welcome to JustAnswer. I am reviewing your post, and I will post my response very shortly.

Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 2 months ago.

I am so sorry to read about your difficulties.

You may consider taking the offer from the Attorneys for representation or you can look for other Attorneys to represent you.

You can use the following sites to find local Attorneys who handle municipal issues to assist you with the case:

In the trial, you would be able to show that the City has had selective enforcement of the code; that while some homeowners are not penalized for doing the same you did you are now being brought before the Court to represent yourself. That the City should be forced to uniformly apply the rules and allow your structure to remain just as the City has allowed other structures allegedly constructed in violation of the rules to remain. Also, that the City should be ordered to pay for your Attorney's fees and the cost of the proceeding.

Goodluck with your case.

Kindly give a positive rating to my response so that I can receive credit for responding to your post. That’s the way that I get paid for answering questions on the site. There is no additional cost to you for giving a positive rating.

Thank you for your cooperation.