Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Chapter 22. Planning, Subdivision of Land and Zoning

§ 15.2-2209. Civil penalties for violations of zoning ordinance.

Notwithstanding subdivision A 5 of § 15.2-2286, any locality may adopt an ordinance which establishes a uniform schedule of civil penalties for violations of specified provisions of the zoning ordinance. The schedule of offenses shall not include any zoning violation resulting in injury to any persons, and the existence of a civil penalty shall not preclude action by the zoning administrator under subdivision A 4 of § 15.2-2286 or action by the governing body under § 15.2-2208.

This schedule of civil penalties shall be uniform for each type of specified violation, and the penalty for any one violation shall be a civil penalty of not more than $200 for the initial summons and not more than $500 for each additional summons. Each day during which the violation is found to have existed shall constitute a separate offense. However, specified violations arising from the same operative set of facts shall not be charged more frequently than once in any 10-day period, and a series of specified violations arising from the same operative set of facts shall not result in civil penalties which exceed a total of $5,000. Designation of a particular zoning ordinance violation for a civil penalty pursuant to this section shall be in lieu of criminal sanctions, and except for any violation resulting in injury to persons, such designation shall preclude the prosecution of a violation as a criminal misdemeanor, provided, however, that when such civil penalties total $5,000 or more, the violation may be prosecuted as a criminal misdemeanor.

The zoning administrator or his deputy may issue a civil summons as provided by law for a scheduled violation. Any person summoned or issued a ticket for a scheduled violation may make an appearance in person or in writing by mail to the department of finance or the treasurer of the locality prior to the date fixed for trial in court. Any person so appearing may enter a waiver of trial, admit liability, and pay the civil penalty established for the offense charged. Such persons shall be informed of their right to stand trial and that a signature to an admission of liability will have the same force and effect as a judgment of court.

If a person charged with a scheduled violation does not elect to enter a waiver of trial and admit liability, the violation shall be tried in the general district court in the same manner and with the same right of appeal as provided for by law. In any trial for a scheduled violation authorized by this section, it shall be the burden of the locality to show the liability of the violator by a preponderance of the evidence. If the violation remains uncorrected at the time of the admission of liability or finding of liability, the court may order the violator to abate or remedy the violation in order to comply with the zoning ordinance. Except as otherwise provided by the court for good cause shown, any such violator shall abate or remedy the violation within a period of time as determined by the court, but not later than six months of the date of admission of liability or finding of liability. Each day during which the violation continues after the court-ordered abatement period has ended shall constitute a separate offense. An admission of liability or finding of liability shall not be a criminal conviction for any purpose.

No provision herein shall be construed to allow the imposition of civil penalties (i) for activities related to land development or (ii) for violation of any provision of a local zoning ordinance relating to the posting of signs on public property or public rights-of-way.

1985, c. 417, § 15.1-499.1; 1986, c. 97; 1987, cc. 78, 99; 1988, cc. 513, 813, 869, 895; 1989, c. 566; 1990, cc. 473, 495; 1992, c. 298; 1993, c. 823; 1994, c. 342; 1995, c. 494; 1996, c. 421; 1997, c. 587; 2003, c. 192; 2006, c. 248; 2008, c. 727.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.