Types of penalties for commercial zoning violations

Commercial zoning laws control the use of property and the types of businesses that can exist in a specific area. Zoning laws also regulate certain activities, such as parking, the appearance of a building, and noise level. Under the Chicago Zoning Ordinance, there are a variety of penalties you or your business could face if you violate a zoning law.

First, the City of Chicago could withhold or revoke your permit if you are in violation of the Ordinance. As any business owner or developer knows, getting a permit is essential to moving forward with your project. City officials can deny or withhold permits, certificates, and/or other forms of authorization if there is a zoning violation. And if you already received the permit, the City has the right to revoke that permit or to place conditions on it. Either way, you could be losing time and money until the issue is resolved. 

Next, the City could issue a stop-work order or seek injunctive relief. A stop-work order prevents you from doing any further business until you come into compliance. Alternatively, the City could go to court to get an injunction to prevent you from continuing to violate the Ordinance.

Some remedies are specific to the type of violations. For example, the City of Chicago regulates the number, size, appearance, and placement of business signs. If you do not adhere to these regulations, the City can confiscate your signs and require you to pay for the costs of removing and disposing of them.

You could also be required to take remedial action to remove or fix the violation. If you installed any fixtures or furnishings that violate the Ordinance, for example, the City could require you to remove those items at your expense.

Finally, violations of the Zoning Ordinance could be punishable by a penalty of anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per day that the violation continues. Clearly, this can add up over time.

If you are a small business owner in Chicago, you may find it helpful to speak with an attorney who has experience in real estate transactions. Violating zoning laws can prove to be costly in more ways than one. As a result, it would be in your best interests to ensure that you are in compliance with the Ordinance before any problems arise. 

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