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What can we do and where do we start about a neighbor violating city zoning ordinances?

Homedale, ID |

We live in residential zone. Neighbor installed remote controlled car racetrack on about a quarter acre. We know he did not apply for conditional use permit or building permit for an observation deck that's at least 8 feet high and 16 feet long. He also is using irrigation district pressurized water illegally. Race track produces a lot of noise and dust and greatly disturbs us. We cannot enjoy our property and home when it's running. Access road to property is dirt and runs along the back of our property. The racing causes a lot of vehicle traffic from folks attending events. Noise and dirt stirred up by these vehicles is irritating. The track runs on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays and often during the week. The city doesn't seem to want to do anything about it.

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

There are (at least) two possible options here. One is to bring a private civil action against your neighbor for common law nuisance, citing the noise, traffic and dust impacts.

The other, if allowed by state law in Idaho/ is to bring an administrative proceeding against the various municipal boards which may not be enforcing their zoning and building codes, noise ordinances, mass gathering laws and regulations concerning irrigation district water use, after making a due demand, in writing, for each jurisdictional board to enforce its permitting regulations against your neighbor and citing the regulations they are not enforcing.

(In New York State, this proceeding is called an "Article 78 proceeding" and combines several common law "writs" such as "mandamus", the writ used where a governmental agency is not enforcing its laws).

You may get more traction if you can get like-minded neighbors who are also being adversely affected to join with you in petitioning the agencies to enforce their laws or joining your nuisance suit as plaintiffs.

You will probably want to consult with a local attorney who does zoning and land use work.

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In addition to following the options/advice given above, be sure that you have filed a complaint with the City - there should be a complaint process for code violations. Make sure you have exhausted everything with the City. Consider approaching your elected officials to get them to get the City to act as well if they are failing to enforce the code even after you have filed a complaint.

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz


Yes, I agree, in terms of complaints, before suing the city, you have to "exhaust your administrative remedies". Ask your attorney what that means in your situation and how to accomplish that.


I agree with the answer suggesting a nuisance action as a possible recourse. Idaho has codified nuisance law and the facts you put forth would likely fall under the definition of " nuisance". Additionally, you may want to take a look at the local civil ordinances in your county. Many. Our ties have ordinances that define "nuisance" activities. Finally, you may want to write a letter to your local prosecuting attorney requesting an investigation and possible action by the prosecuting attorney assigned to nuisance abatement.

Dotty Elaine Lemieux

Dotty Elaine Lemieux


Yes, nuisance is a very viable course of action; are there other neighbors also affected? If so, you can join together, save money, and you may possibly have a cause of action for public as well as private nuisance.


The first step should be to file a complaint with the municipality. There should be a process set forth in the city zoning ordinance. It may be helpful to consult an attorney to file the complaint for you. I would follow this path initially and if no action is taken, you may be required to file a private action. In any event, I would consult a local land use attorney to determine your best available legal otpion.

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