Can I sue the county for not enforcing zoning laws on a neighboring junkyard?

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Can I sue the county for not enforcing zoning laws on a neighboring junkyard?

Over a year ago I reported my neighbor to the county for being in clear violation of the current zoning laws. He has a very large junkyard. The county investigated, and agreed that he was in violation. They asked him to clean it up multiple times, but have taken no legal action and done nothing to enforce the law other than verbal requests for compliance. Over a year later the junkyard is still there, dragging my property value down. Do I have any legal recourse?

Asked on August 20, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Property devaluation is usually not a sufficient reason to have a colorable claim by which to sue the county but you may wish to try, especially if garbage encroaches on your property or noxious fumes do as well.  You may have air rights you can enforce.  The best thing to do is contact local counsel, who handles zoning matters.  Then the counsel may first decide to approach local or state politicians to see if the matter can be handled via the individuals who are charged with protecting the residents.  If the county agency responsible for cleaning up or enforcing this matter is not doing its job, then it may very well be a bigger issue than a civil lawsuit.


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