2008-03-13 / Front Page

Civil Infraction Hearing Set for Planning Comm. March 18

A hearing on the new Clark Township civil infraction ordinance will be Tuesday, March 18, at 6 p.m. before the Clark Township Planning Commission's master plan and zoning ordinance workshop.

This ordinance will replace Article V in the township's zoning ordinance.

A civil infraction ordinance was already adopted by Clark Township board, and a hearing was held on it January 17.

To add it to the zoning ordinance, however, it must be presented to the public for comment again. Clark Township Planning Commission will then vote to recommend adding the new rule to the township's zoning ordinance.

Making zoning violations civil infractions is hoped to remedy the township's problem with disregard for zoning, and property owners' failure to correct violations even after they are cited.

Zoning ordinance violations are among the offenses that will be punishable by a $100 fine, according to this ordinance.

The process will include a notification of the violation to give time to correct it. The Clark Township supervisor or a designated person may then have the authority to write tickets for zoning and ordinance violations. Fines can be paid at Clark Township Hall. Those contesting the violation, however, would have to go to court. The township will establish a Municipal Ordinance Violations Bureau to receive fines, under the supervision and control of the treasurer's office.

Each day a fine is not paid, or no response is made to the complaint, will become a new offense and be subject to a $100 fine.

A person could feasibly be charged $100 for each day of an ordinance violation, or have the complaint turned over to District Court. Second offense civil infractions will be fined $250.

Third offenses will be fined $500. Until the measure is adopted, all of these fines are proposals.

Clark Township's policy now relies on sending warnings and filing complaints against violators in district court, but planning commissioners and trustees have long recognized the ineffectiveness of this policy.

The board was told by township attorney Jim Murray of Plunkett and Cooney that Clark Township's current policy labels zoning violations as misdemeanors, and judges are reluctant to hear such cases, which renders the current policy ineffective. Gourdie-Fraser, the planning firm hired by Clark Township to help draft a new master plan and zoning ordinance, concurred.

The complete ordinance can be reviewed at Clark Township Hall in Cedarville.

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