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Commercial code compliance - Common violations

Most violations are complaint based investigations or are initiated by an inspector during systematic area inspections.

Keeping properties up to code not only ensures that health and zoning regulations do what they were enacted to do: protect the health and safety of the public;  but it also creates value in our city by making properties more appealing and developing inherent pride in our community.

The following are the most commonly cited nuisance and zoning violations:

How we work: Inspectors investigate every complaint that is received or observed.  After verifying a violation the inspector will attempt to make contact with the owner and/or tenant, and send them a letter notifying them of the code violation.

Inspectors often spend a considerable amount of time explaining the City’s code requirements and the reasons behind them.  This educational component helps strengthen partnerships and reduces the number of cases that need to be resolved by legal action.  If violations are not resolved by the “final” written notice, the case is referred to our Legal Department.  The majority of violations are resolved within a few days, but some situations may take months.

If owners or tenants have legitimate reasons that a violation cannot be completed by the compliance date on the City’s written orders, it is best to contact the inspector to discuss these reasons.  Most of the time, a reasonable compliance timeframe can be agreed to, as long as an effective action plan is purposed. The City’s goal is sustained compliance.

1.) Signs

Temporary signs are the most common type of violation.  Promotional signs almost always require a permit, but several other types are exempt from permits yet still may be regulated for size and location (ie, Now Hiring, Real Estate/Leasing, Future Development, etc.).  All permanent signs are handled by the City Planning Division

2.) Storage Violations

Exterior Storage [BCC Sect. 19.50]

In general, items not directly associated with the primary use of the property, should not be stored outside.  Whenever possible items should be kept inside a building or within an enclosed container.  An approved Use Permit for open storage may be necessary when outdoor storage exceeds indoor space or if it is not an accessory use.

  • Storage of various items can vary depending on how a property is zoned and the nature of the business.  For example, manufacturing, assembly, or industrial uses are allowed more open storage than a restaurant or retail store because it is considered an accessory use and necessary to the main use of the property.

Brush [BCC Sect. 10.38(b)]

Piles of brush are not allowed to be openly stored at a commercial property. Brush may be kept on a property if it is stored in closed containers.

Definition: Includes parts of plants, such as but not limited to, twigs, tree and shrub branches. Brush does not include firewood and construction material.  [BCC Sect. 10.37]

When a notice to remove brush is issued, the property owner is given 10 days to remove or properly store it.  If the brush remains, the City’s contracted company will remove it.  The cost of the service is billed to the property owner and if not paid, will be assessed to the property on the next year tax statement.

3.) Exterior Maintenance

[BCC Sect. 15.01. ADOPTION OF THE MINNESOTA STATE BUILDING CODE AND INTERNATIONAL PROPERTY MAINTENANCE CODE]

Peeling paint

Paint that is deteriorating or peeling on exterior surfaces must be removed and the areas repainted. This includes fascia, trim, siding, sheds and fences. All exterior wooden surfaces besides decay resistant woods must be painted, treated or covered.  All accessory structures (ie, sheds or garages) must be constructed with a complimentary finish to the principal building.

General upkeep

The exterior of buildings must be kept in good condition.  Rotten, broken or missing fascia, doors, windows and fences or other screening material (including landscaping), must be repaired or replaced.  No exterior surfaces may be in visible disrepair.  This includes, but is not limited to buildings, garages, roofs, signs, sheds, driveways, and parking lots.

Building identification numbers [IPMC Sect. 304.3]

All buildings must clearly display and maintain property identification numbers, so they are visible from the street.  The numbers must be plainly legible and a contrasting color to the building finish.  The numbers must also be a minimum of 4 inches in height and 0.5 inches in width.  This is for the public’s safety to assist emergency personnel in locating your property.

4.) Vehicle violations

[BCC Ch. 8 Article III vehicle regulations]
  • All vehicles in the City must be currently licensed and operable, unless they are located at an approved motor vehicle repair facility awaiting service or stored behind a screening fence at a junk yard or associated with a vehicle towing operation (shall not be used for long term storage).
  • Vehicles without valid license plate tabs or those that are clearly inoperable (flat tire, missing essential parts or safety components, etc.) will be posted for towing.  If no action is taken by the owner on record, then the vehicle will be towed by the City eight days after the notice was posted.

Vehicle signs [BCC Sect. 19.106 (b)(10)]

Vehicles used for advertising are specifically prohibited in the City because they pose a unique traffic safety hazard and due to their generally large size can not be approved for display under the current sign ordinance.

Unapproved parking surfaces  [BCC Sect. 21.301.06 parking and loading]

All vehicles must be parked/stored on driveways, parking lots or within a building.  No vehicles may be parked on the lawn, landscaping or gravel surfaces.   Adding new parking areas onto your property with class five gravel or landscaping rock is not allowed.  The only approved new driveway surfaces are asphalt, concrete, or pavers and must be installed under a City permit.

5.) Use or Zoning Violations

[BCC Ch. 19 Zoning & Ch. 21 Zoning and Land Development]

Uses may not be compatible in a zoning district for several reasons, such as: traffic flow, adjacent developments, parking demand and physical structure (fire ratings/suppression systems, floor drains with flammable waste traps, HVAC, etc.), so it is important to ensure that a proposed business is compatible in order to provide a safe operation for employees and the surrounding community.

The City of Bloomington Zoning Ordinance regulates the use of land through the establishment of zoning districts.  Each zoning district has a list of permitted, accessory, and conditional or interim uses, which guide the planning and development of the City based on compatibility of land use in order to achieve long term goals.

“Permitted” uses in a zoning district are allowed by right and generally do not require approval, provided they meet all applicable performance standards in the Zoning Ordinance.

  • Single Family Dwellings are a permitted use in the R-1.
  • Warehouses are a permitted use in the I-1 (Industrial Parks)

“Accessory” uses are allowed only when associated with a permitted or principal use and applicable performance standards in the Zoning Ordinance.  These type of uses are not allowed on their own.

“Conditional and Interim” type uses are generally not compatible for that particular district, but under certain circumstances they may be supported by the City Council through a Conditional Use Permit.  When these uses are approved by the City Council there are specific conditions attached to the uses, which aid in minimizing the impacts of the use.

** Please call Planning & Development at 952-563-8920 with any questions or visit the Planning Division webpage**

  • The Zoning Ordinance is a complex document  and approval for new businesses impacts many departments within the City, so developments are carefully reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

6.) Weeds

[BCC Sect. 10.37 Definition & 10.38 Nuisance]

Weeds and grass may not be taller than 8 inches.  When a notice to destroy weeds is issued, property owners are given seven (7) days from the date of the notice to cut the grass.  If the grass has not been cut after the due date, then the City’s contracted company will cut the grass and/or weeds. The cost of the service is billed to the property owner and if not paid, it will be assessed to the property’s taxes.

Noxious weeds

Weeds on the state’s noxious weed list must be eradicated. Canadian thistle and poison ivy are common plants included on the list.  Dandelions are not considered a noxious weed and the City does not regulate their growth.

7.) Graffiti

[BCC Ch. 12, Div. N - Graffiti]
Graffiti constitutes a form of vandalism defined by the act of defacing public or private property and is a symbol of disorder eroding public safety, contributing to blight, lessening property values, and business viability.

There is substantial evidence that prompt eradication of graffiti is an effective prevention strategy which discourages its return and likelihood that the same property or adjacent sites will be subsequently tagged.

The Process:
When the City declares that such vandalism constitutes a public nuisance (via a complaint from residents, a police report or systematic inspection of properties), the owner will receive a letter notifying them that the graffiti must be removed within 10 days.  This process is intended to prevent the spread of graffiti vandalism and limit the adverse impacts on neighborhoods.  If no action is taken to remove the graffiti by the due date then the City will have their contracted company remove it at the owner’s expense.

8.) Refuse and Recycling