The Department of Planning and Zoning is responsible for administering and enforcing the Zoning Ordinance (Appendix B of the County Code). Zoning enforcement occurs under multiple circumstances, including, but not limited to:
- Establishment of a use not permitted within a Zoning District (Section 5-2 of the Zoning Ordinance)
- Establishment of a use within a Zoning District without the necessary Special Exception (granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals) or Conditional Use Permit (granted by the Board of Supervisors)
- Establishment of a use to a greater extent than is permitted within a Zoning District
- Establishment of a use in a manner inconsistent with the supplemental regulations required by the Zoning Ordinance (Article 9 of the Zoning Ordinance)
- Construction or exterior alteration of a structure without a Zoning Permit (not including fences)
- Construction or exterior alteration of a structure within the setback(s) required by a Zoning District (as specified in Section 5-2 of the Zoning Ordinance)
- Construction of a sign without a Zoning Permit
- Construction of a sign within the setback(s) required by a Zoning District (as specified in Section 12-6 of the Zoning Ordinance)
Zoning enforcement by the Department of Planning and Zoning is complaint-driven where enforcement is initiated when our department is made aware of a potential violation. When a violation is confirmed, staff aims to resolve the issue by assisting to bring the violation into compliance (if possible) before pursuing any legal enforcement procedures, as detailed in Section 15-8 of the Zoning Ordinance.
When notified of a potential violation of the Zoning Ordinance, departmental staff will document the complaint, follow-up with the complainant by phone, and perform a site visit (as needed) within approximately 1-2 weeks of receiving the complaint (sooner, if possible) to confirm whether or not a violation has occurred. Typically, staff will attempt to verbally communicate the potential violation to the responsible individual or entity, explain the ordinance requirements and, if needed, describe how to remedy the violation (if one is present). In most circumstances, steps to remedy a violation are voluntarily taken and staff will give them the appropriate time to complete these steps. If a violation has occurred and cannot be communicated verbally, the Zoning Administrator will notify the individual or entity responsible in writing of the nature of the violation and necessary action(s) to correct the violation. In some circumstances, the discontinuance of an illegal use or structure will be ordered until the violation has been resolved.
If a confirmed violation is continued without the individual or entity responsible taking the necessary steps to correct the violation, the County Attorney will pursue a legal remedy to resolve the violation. The County Attorney will require all illegal actions to be stopped until the violation is decided by the Gloucester County Circuit Court and all corrective actions are identified and accomplished. Pursuant to Section 15-10 of the Zoning Ordinance, any individual or entity found to be violating the Zoning Ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not less than $10 nor more than $1,000, with each day a violation is committed or continued constituting a separate offense.