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kcvale
04-03-2009, 05:23 PM
My female mc has come home to the small Ohio town where she was raised. She's inherited the house where she was abused as a child. She's still very angry with the people in her swanky, upper class neighborhood who knew what was happening but did nothing to help her. She plans to raze the house, pave over the property, and leave the barren waste behind.

Is this legal? Or would zoning laws prohibit this? If so, what kind of loophole could she use to get around it?

Thanks,
Kay

firedrake
04-03-2009, 05:46 PM
She could demolish the house, with a permit. There's nothing to stop her doing that.

The problem would be that if she left the place to get choked up with weeds and fall into neglect then she would face Code Enforcement action. They usually start with a written warning, then another one. If she didn't comply then she would be taken to court and fined or jailed. Chances are, since it's a swanky neighborhood, that the neighbors would be up in arms and bombarding the Code Enforcement Department with phone calls and complaints and then the Mayor and Council members. If she doesn't pay the fine, a lien can be placed on the property. The local paper would probably get involved. Then realtors would be sniffing around trying to get hold of the MC to get her to sell the lot so they can market it and someone can build a McMansion on it. :D

Also, if it's a posh neighborhood, there may be a Homeowners Association and they can fine her or put a lien on her property too.

WriteKnight
04-03-2009, 06:01 PM
Zoning laws can be VERY quirky, and complicated. Firedrake is correct in what is the 'likely' scenario in most situations.

What is the 'need' of your plotline? It sounds like you have two goals.

ONE - Obliterate the house.
TWO - Insult the neighbors.

I'm assuming this is NOT a real town? If it were, you could go look up the zoning laws - which often vary from neighborhood to neighborhood anyway. Its not a bad idea to do that anyway, just so you'll know what is the standard practice for small towns in that part of Ohio.

Levelling the house, should prove no problem. Demolition permits are usually issued in order to pave the way for new construction - OR to simply clear the lot for sale.

IF your goal is to place a parking lot in the midst of the neighborhood - you'll need to come up with some sort of QUIRKY 'grandfather clause' to the zoning restrictions. This would have to be worked into the plot. Perhaps the swanky neighborhood has a zoning law that allows the 'original' property holders to dispose of their property outside of the zoning restrictions? Maybe the MC house, was the FIRST homestead built in the area - perhaps its the original farmhouse, whose property was later turned into the subdivision that all the swanky houses now sit on? I could see the original stipulations for sale of the property to the developer - saying something like "You can develop the land as a high end neighborhood with zoning restrictions - but I and my heirs have the right to do ANYTHING we want with our house and the lot it now sits on - in perpetuity..." I can see a greedy developer who was dying to get his hands on the farmland agreeing to such a condition. Assuming that by the time the old man died, the development would be built, his profit made, and it would be the problems of the neighborhood.

Which is exactly what you want.

Ergo - its possible to turn the lot into a paved over wasteland. End of story.

OR you could find some OTHER egregious building to put on the lot, if you can't make a parking lot there. Perhaps build a building that is going to annoy the neighbors no end? Some religious commune, some political statement, some sort of 'half way house' that would drive them nuts, and yet serve as a tribute to the MC's own philosophies and beliefs?

Off for coffee now, good luck.

Clair Dickson
04-03-2009, 06:32 PM
If she's that upset about the house, why worry about it being legal?

She could bulldoze the house, pay a fine IF someone complains about the lack of a permit. She could abandon the property... if the mortgage is paid, then only property taxes would be due. A sale to recoup property taxes takes a long time, from what I understand. So, she walks away from the property and eventually the city (or township or other govt. body depending on the area) would sell the property at auction.

I think there'd only be some fines for not having a permit. And if she never turns in the paperwork saying the property was hers, the local govt may not even be able to figure out it's hers (assuming most govt bodies don't spend much time on these sort of things-- property records around here aren't updated until someone turns the paperwork into the local govt offices. It's my understanding, that if you don't turn in the paperwork, they won't know... until someone else brings it to their attention.)

I'm not a lawyer, but I am a Realtor.

Puma
04-03-2009, 08:13 PM
Quirky alternate possibility. I'm in Ohio. There was a recent case of a newish house that developed really bad black mold. The owners sued the developers, etc. etc. The house was declared un-habitable and razed.

So, my quirky - make something wrong with the house and property and there wouldn't be questions about turning it into a parking lot (buried munitions from a WWII ammo plant or something). It's a blighted spot. Puma

WriteKnight
04-03-2009, 09:35 PM
I think part of the OP's intent, is to 'punish' or insult the neighbors for their inaction in the past. So perhaps simply allowing the property to fall vacant, and be bought and rebuilt on isn't enough of an insult to the neighborhood. She wants to do something with the property that will be percieved as a 'blight' that the neighbors will have to live with in their own community.

The problem is how to do this WITHOUT losing title to the property - since losing title to the property would mean someone else will simply build a nice house on it.

That is, IF I understand the OP's intent correctly. <<shrug>>

firedrake
04-03-2009, 09:38 PM
I think part of the OP's intent, is to 'punish' or insult the neighbors for their inaction in the past. So perhaps simply allowing the property to fall vacant, and be bought and rebuilt on isn't enough of an insult to the neighborhood. She wants to do something with the property that will be percieved as a 'blight' that the neighbors will have to live with in their own community.

The problem is how to do this WITHOUT losing title to the property - since losing title to the property would mean someone else will simply build a nice house on it.

That is, IF I understand the OP's intent correctly. <<shrug>>

In my many years of working in planning, the one application guaranteed to bring the burning torch brigade out in full force, is a conditional use application for a group home, especially, say if it's for released prisoners. We had a proposal for one last year in an old, long established neighborhood and we must've had about 75 people turn up for the Public Hearing.
I think, if I wanted to piss the neighbors off, that would be how I'd do it.

waylander
04-03-2009, 10:42 PM
Halfway house for sex offenders would do it

RJK
04-03-2009, 11:06 PM
Hey Waylander you stole my idea. I was going to suggest drug addicts, sex offenders my be a little too close to home for her.

Sarpedon
04-03-2009, 11:16 PM
Halfway house for sex offenders would do it

You'd have to get planning approval for that. There'd be a hearing.

Religious buildings, however are compatible with residential zoning, in most areas at least. Maybe she could donate the house to a weird cult.

DeleyanLee
04-03-2009, 11:29 PM
If it's a religiously proper neighborhood, you could pull an Auntie Mame and have a house for wayward young women. Or maybe a shelter for abused women/families. Or a foodbank/kitchen for the poor/elderly. Think of the lovely traffic problems several times a day.

kcvale
04-04-2009, 05:39 AM
Wow! Thanks for all the helpful replies. Writeknight had it right. She does want to punish the neighbors for their inaction. And sex offenders would be too close for comfort. But the idea of a religious group being installed is absolutely perfect. It solves another piece of the puzzle I've been struggling with.

Thanks so much!

Cathy C
04-04-2009, 05:45 AM
Make sure it's a really quirky one that stays up all night, lights bonfires and bangs on drums to call forth the rain gods or some such. :D

firedrake
04-04-2009, 05:50 AM
...and the beauty of a religious group is that provided it's just a bunch of people living there and not providing a service, I'm not sure that it requires any kind of Conditional Use permit plus, there's the spectre of the Religious Land Use Protection Act which makes Planners quail if they have to try and prevent such a use.

ooh, you could have some fun with this :D

Cathy C
04-04-2009, 06:22 AM
makes Planners quail

Ooo! Quail. That would be PERFECT! Have the religion be something that worships some sort of really annoying endangered species that the other residents have been trying to get rid of for years. Like black-footed ferrets running amok and digging up flowers, or flocks of colony parrots pooping all over the BMWs and Lamborghinis from the trees.

:ROFL:

firedrake
04-04-2009, 06:27 AM
Ooo! Quail. That would be PERFECT! Have the religion be something that worships some sort of really annoying endangered species that the other residents have been trying to get rid of for years. Like black-footed ferrets running amok and digging up flowers, or flocks of colony parrots pooping all over the BMWs and Lamborghinis from the trees.

:ROFL:

it doesn't have to be endangered...I'm thinking brown rats :D. There was a case in California recently where two elderly sisters had a very nice beachfront property in a posh neighborhood...they used to feed the local rats, for years, we're talking decades. The house was literally crawling with rats.

RJK
04-04-2009, 07:17 PM
You might run up against the health department if you're harboring rats. Bats, on the other hand could be a lot of fun. They'd terrorize the neighborhood every evening.

StephanieFox
04-04-2009, 08:01 PM
Zoning laws are local, but there are some things your MC could do.

She could paint the house in six or seven awful colors. She could paint pictures on the house. We had a local artist who used the house as a canvas and painted pictures of the Klan in one window (saying that she was making a point about first impressions,) with the siding done in stripes with flowers. The roof shingles were a number of different colors. The neighbors tried to stop here, but she won and it's been that way for about 15 years.

A religious house might need zoning OKs. Where I live, things can be zoned as a church, but you can't simply build a church wherever. (I think the concern is parking problems.) But, a home for the unwed pregnant girl might be outside the zoning department.

She could plant the yard with natural prairie grasses and plants. People do that here and their neighbors HATE it. You could put in a couple of ponds and let the mosquitos breed.

She could landscape so that the water runs away from her property and toward the neighbor's homes, flooding the basements.

kcvale
04-05-2009, 09:48 AM
You all are the best. Of course, I don't ever want to tick any of you off, or live next door to you. But otherwise, ya'll are tops! :D