Code Violations List

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Property Violations

Dilapidated Structures

All buildings (residential and non-residential) must meet minimum standards for maintenance. All buildings are required to be in good general condition (both interior and exterior) and maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary condition.

Yard Areas

All exterior property and premises shall be maintained in a clean, safe, and sanitary condition. Except as otherwise provided for in the Zoning Code. It is unlawful to utilize a premises for the open storage of any inoperable, unlicensed, or unregistered motor vehicle, appliance, building material, rubbish, tires, automotive parts, junk, yard waste, or debris.

High Grass and Weeds

Grass and weeds must be kept below 12 inches in height. Native plants and ornamental vegetation must be maintained so as not to be a nuisance. For undeveloped land within the city limits, grass and weeds must be kept below 24 inches in height. Failure to maintain vacant lots or properties with vacant structures could result in the City of Johnson City cutting the grass and placing a lien against the property for the cost of the mowing.

Accessory Structures and Fences

A fence may be erected without a permit, but it must be constructed of approved materials that are designed for that purpose. Solid privacy fences must be a minimum of 10 feet from the edge of the right of way.

The City Code provides that for screening walls or fences the maximum permitted height shall be:

* Two and one-half feet in height within 10 feet of a street right-of-way (property line). Open fences, such as chain link or those of similar nature are permitted to be six feet in height.
* Six feet in height in the remainder of the front setback (leading edge of house).
* Eight feet in height within the required side or rear setback (side and rear yards).
* Maximum height is measured from finish grade level on the side of the wall or fence with the greatest vertical exposure.

Sheds and carports that are 10 feet by 10 feet (10’ x 10’) in size or larger require a permit. All sheds and carports must be set within the required setbacks for the property. Utility sheds and similar structures cannot be converted to or be used as a living space. Detached garages can, in certain cases, be converted to living space. Permits are required before any work begins.

Unsanitary Conditions—Hoarding

Owners of any building or accessory structure shall maintain the property in a safe and sanitary condition, free from conditions that would be hazardous to the health and welfare of the occupants. This includes the proper disposal of trash and garbage.


Owners and occupiers of property shall remove all dead, diseased or dangerous trees, or broken or decayed limbs on their property, which constitute a menace to the safety of the public. The City Forester, Pat Walding, can be reached with questions about tree ordinances at 423.975.2681.

Vehicle Violations

Inoperable / Unlicensed Vehicles on Private Property

An inoperable motor vehicle is defined as a vehicle that cannot be driven upon the public streets for reasons including but not limited to: being unlicensed, wrecked, abandoned, in a state of disrepair or incapable of being moved under its own power. Except as may be otherwise permitted by the Zoning Code, inoperable, unlicensed or unregistered motor vehicles cannot be openly parked, kept or stored on any premises within the city for a period in excess of ten (10) days unless such vehicle is completely enclosed within a building. Such vehicles must be stored in a garage or other structure designed for that purpose. An open carport will not satisfy this requirement.

Repairing Vehicles on Residential Property

Only minor repairs of motor vehicles can be done on residential property. The repairs must be to vehicles owned by either the owner-occupant or their tenant. Major repairs that require dismantling the vehicles major components is prohibited. Repair or stripping of vehicles by individuals engaged in an auto repair business in a residential zone district is prohibited.

Abandoned Vehicles on Public Property

Vehicles may not be abandoned or stored on public property. Abandoned vehicles on public property are defined by state and local law as: vehicles which are “more than four years old” and remain unattended on the public right of way for 10 days or vehicles in an “obvious state of disrepair” which remain unattended on the public right of way for at least three days; illegally parked on public property for more than 48 hours.

Zoning Violations

Business Operating in Residential Zone District

A business may not operate in a residential zone district unless a Home Occupation Permit ( has been obtained. Before obtaining a permit, a number of conditions must be met by the applicant.

* No customer or clients may visit the premises.
* There shall be no visible signs from the dwelling indicating the type of business being operated.
* Only one “non-resident” employee is allowed to work on the premises.
* The area used for the Home Occupation Permit cannot exceed 20% of the area of the premises, but in no event be more than 500 square feet.

Illegal Use of Property

All parcels have been assigned a zoning category and their use must be consistent with that assigned zoning code. Common categories are RS– Residential Single Family, CS-Commercial Services, etc. Failure to use a property consistent with its zone category and/or without a required Use and Occupancy Permit is prohibited.

Yard and Garage Sales

No garage sale shall be conducted unless and until the person desiring to conduct such sale has obtained a permit from the City’s Finance Department. Carole Whaley handles permits and can be reached at 423-434-2393 or Garage sales shall be held only between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. No more than three garage sales shall be held from the same address within any calendar year with not more than two garage sales permitted within a 30-day period. Each garage sale shall not exceed three consecutive days.


The following rules apply to signs in the City of Johnson City:

* Portable signs are not permitted inside the City. (For exceptions, contact Planning at 423-434-6071.)
* Sign locations can be in violation as well, i.e. if the sign is located in the right of way.
* Signs cannot be placed on public property without permission, including on utility poles, light poles, and bus benches and utility boxes.
* Banners can only be used to announce a grand opening, closing, and must be permitted.

Contact the Johnson City Zoning Division to determine specific requirements that may affect your proposed sign before the sign is installed.