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Outdoor Storage


Outdoor Storage Abatement Program

General Information about Code Enforcement

Roanoke's zoning ordinance (Chapter 36.2, Article I, of the Code of the City of Roanoke) prohibits “outdoor storage” in all residential and commercial zones. However, outdoor promotional displays of merchandise associated with a business may, with zoning approval, be allowed in commercial areas. In industrial areas outdoor storage is generally allowed if it is screened from view and conforms to any other guidelines set forth for the parcel. Property owners should be aware that a Zoning Permit must be obtained before constructing a privacy fence or any auxiliary structure. For more information, contact the Permit Center.

The term “outdoor storage” covers a broad spectrum, but in general it is considered to be anything that is not normally found in residential yards and on porches, or around business premises. This could include construction materials, auto parts, appliances, unused indoor-type furniture and the clutter of various personal items or stacks of containers in plain view, among other things. In residential zones, equipment regularly used for lawn maintenance, outdoor furniture, childrens’ toys, bicycles and neatly stacked firewood are not generally considered to be outdoor storage, however an excess of those items, or equipment in disrepair may tip the scales toward it being a code violation.

  1. The city receives a referral or complaint or a Code Enforcement inspector happens to see a possible outdoor storage violation while canvassing his or her assigned area.
  2. A closer inspection is done and a decision is made as to whether it constitutes “outdoor storage”.
  3. If a violation exists, the inspector takes photographs of it.
  4. Ownership is verified and an electronic tracking “file” is created. Photographs are stored as evidence should court action become necessary later.
  5. A certified “Notice of Violation” letter is sent to the propery owner. Items that need to be removed are described in the letter. The allotted compliance time is 10 days.
  6. If during this time if the owner calls and asks for an extension it may be granted, based upon the facts of the case or any extenuating circumstances.
  7. The inspector revisits the property at the deadline to determine if the order has been complied with. If not, more photos are taken.
  8. If the propery is in compliance the “case” is closed.
  9. If compliance has not been achieved the owner is summoned to General District Court. Once this is done, several weeks may elapse before a court case can be scheduled.
  10. The judge renders a decision on the violation. Generally on the first court date the defendant is granted more time to abate the violation. At the second or third hearing in court a fine is usually levied.
  11. If the defendant is fined and the violation has not been abated the inspector may file another summons after a minimum of 10 days has elapsed. 10 days is the time period allowed by the court to note an appeal.
  12. The court process is continued until compliance is achieved.

Note: In some cases it may take several months for the process to play out before the violation is actually corrected. During this time, remember that the City is actively pursuing correction of the violation, and we appreciate your patience. The inspector handling the case will be able to provide information about it.


    If you were cited for an outdoor storage violation and would like to speak with an inspector, please call the Code Enforcement Office at 540-853-2344. Our goal always is to obtain voluntary compliance. Most reasonable requests for extra time or for referrals for special assistance are granted, whenever possible.