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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Question County Agency Harassment As We Move Our Existing Business into Another Location

    My question involves business law in the state of: Georgia
    I have been in business for over 5 years in the same county. I am moving into a larger building, and before purchasing this building cleared with planning and zoning that my business could occupy this building. I already have a Certificate of Occupancy and a sales tax license for the property. We have done the renovations with permits in place. Now the county agency, who is in bed with another similar business who would love to see us fail, has stepped in and halted our opening. Although this building was formerly a day care, so all the fire systems, etc are much more than we need for our business, they are forcing us to pay an engineer to draw plans for the building (we already had plans drawn by a contractor), and claim our 4960 square foot building is over 5000 sq feet. (building size has a lot to do with code). They are costing us money, and even sent an inspector from zoning enforcement to tell us we needed to rezone the building. Upon talking to us he realized he had been sent on another wild goose chase ( the county has sent him out to "investigate us" in the past.) He was not happy that they are continuing to harass us. The zoning is correct. The engineer who we are having to pay thousands of dollars to draw up the plans stated, " I don't know why I am here, you have a CO (certificate of occupancy)." You should be able to be up and doing business. " Each day that passes, we are losing money. What can we do to get the county off our backs and stop the harassment?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: County Agency Harassment As We Move Our Existing Business into Another Location

    does your C/O specify the use of the building and does that use reflect your intended use?

    If so, yes, you have a right to occupy the building, of course unless the government disputes the issuance of the C/O. To do so, they would have to make a claim as to why the C/O is improper, which is exactly what it appears they are doing.

    so, to get the county off your backs:

    given the apparent influence this other business owner has and the extent the government is willing to go to delay your opening, I would suggest hiring an attorney to deal with this. If you are fighting this on your own, you are most likely not aware of actions that can be taken to demand the government refrain from interfering with your operation and what can be done to demand they respect the C/O already issued. Even if you do, a lawyer will most likely be more effective and is sure to be more time efficient in taking actions.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Default Re: County Agency Harassment As We Move Our Existing Business into Another Location

    Have you used or hired any people knowledgable with zoning, or know folks on the zoning board, and this would make a big difference. And since very day wasted costs you money as you said, then all the more reason to get some help.

    I've done renovations requiring permits, filing building plans, and getting zoning approval, and I once had inital plans turned down, but because I had someone working on it, he knew where to go to file appeals, so I didn't waste time running in circles. I hired someone who hired architects to draw up the building plans, review the local zoning, file for the permits, and handle appeals, i.e. the whole process.

    I did not need "heavy hitters" in my appeal which you might, but my guy told me sometimes his clients had to get the local representatives involved to get the zoning, and buildings department moving, so it's really a political process as your competitor knows. Since you are not dealing on it as a political issue, your competitor is, they have you running round and round in circles with building inspectors, and low level people in the building departments.

    In one of my renovations, my plans were initially turned down, but my guy went over the reviewers head and got the approval of the assistant buildings commissioner, who signed off on it, so I didn't have to go through a zoning variance. I paid this expert less than $2,000, and he saved me far more than that, in fees alone.

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