Zoning fines to reflect Plan policy

PLYMOUTH - Fines for zoning ordinance violations will now reflect policy for the Marshall County Plan office.

Marshall County Plan Director Ralph Booker brought a resolution to the Commission on Thursday night to revise the current county zoning ordinance regarding fines for infractions. Currently the ordinance is written to say that infractions will draw “…a fine of $200 per day…” after receipt of notice of the infraction.

“My philosophy has always been to try to bring people into compliance with the ordinance, not collect a fine,” Booker told the Commission.
Currently anyone found in violation of Marshall County Zoning for such things as unkempt yards, trash and debris, junk cars or other infractions for maintenance of property, are given an initial warning of the violation. On second notice Booker has imposed a $50 fine, a second notice and fine of $100, third notice $200. Ignoring all the warnings would bring about legal action from the county to remedy the situation.
Booker said that he has always believed that getting the attention of the offender and bringing them into compliance was more important than the fine and admitted he didn’t realize the ordinance was written to demand a $200 per day fine. Booker said he had interpreted the language to mean that he could impose “up to” that amount if he deemed it necessary.

Booker also said this year five offenders had voluntarily paid their initial $50 fine - which goes to the Marshall County General Fund - and he believed it was the first time in the history of the Plan Office that fines had actually been collected.

He asked the Commission to bring the ordinance in line with the way he is enforcing it. Board member Ronnie McCartney asked Booker to be certain he kept his office free from any accusation that they pursued some violations more aggressively than others.

Booker said that the Marshall County Board of Zoning Appeals - who advises him on zoning enforcement - had been in agreement with the move and “…they are usually tougher on people than I am”.
The Board sent a unanimous favorable recommendation for the change to the Marshall County Commissioners.

Published in the July 30 print and e-edition of The Pilot News)