First, for my own curiosity because I'm interested in your stove, is there any visible change to the outside of the house? I realize you need a chimney, but I'm assuming for the moment you already have a chimney. As in my case, where I currently use a standard Ashley woodstove.
Anyway, back to your point, which is just as applicable for someone building a deck, garage, or some other structure which is obvious from the outside.
The crux of the matter seems to be who owns the land, you or the city? Actually, it's more accurately, "Who owns the right to decide what can ultimately be built on the land?" Cities commonly claim that right, but do they really have it, or is it a bluff?
I used to be member of a group called "The Right Way, L.A.W." (RWL) The last part stood for "Learn and Win". They featured seminars and talks given by such men as Jack Smith and Richard Schramm, and dealt with topics from property rights to suing federal judges for misdeeds. They also sold tapes of many of these talks, along with associated paperwork giving the legal background for their assertions. RWL was an inspiration for many "paper warriors" such as myself.
Alas, RWL is long gone, but many of us plod forward. I have many of those materials, but not the right to distribute them. Otherwise I would simply post them on Lawfulpath.com for free. The whole point of RWL was to get people to study, do their own research, find ways to apply their knowledge, and share it with others.
I am happy to share what I know, and what I think, which are sometimes the same, but not always. Here is a relevant story about city zoning:
Please read this article, because it contains my points about ownership, and how to make the point to the city that you have rights superior to theirs.
The way it works is this: They send you a notice which says, "You are in violation of XYZ law, and you have NN days to correct the situation or we will [fine, prosecute, or otherwise embarrass] you. This looks like an officiall document, but really it's just a commercial presentment; an offer. In fact the entire procedure the city will use against you is textbook, right out of the Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C).
The U.C.C. gives you options as to how to respond. You can,
- Refuse for cause
As you read my explanation of these four points, keep this in mind: The U.C.C. operates so that everyone should FIRST be presumed to be acting in good faith. Why would they make a demand of you unless they had the right to do so? When they make a demand (an offer), the U.C.C. demands that it must be presumed they had the right to do it, unless it is later shown they did not.
- Acceptance is obvious, and is what most people do-- go along with the terms of the notice, and correct the situation.
- If you ignore the presentment, or respond in any way other than counteroffer or refusal for cause, you dishonor it. In effect, acceptance and dishonor usually amount to the same thing. As long as the presentor (city) follows the procedure outlined by the U.C.C., and they usually do, the presentor can eventually procede as though you had accepted. Their procedure is to send you additional notices, namely "notice of fault" and "notice of default".
- A counteroffer can be anything which changes the terms of the situation. For example, you might offer to paint it green, if they will surrender their claim. I know that's a lame example, but read on...
- A refusal for cause addresses the underlying presumption that the city has a right to impose something upon you in the first place.
So you're asking how would I handle it, if I built a structure on my land without a permit, and the city red-tagged it, and started harrassing me and trying to fine me?
I would send them a letter which covers all the bases, like this:
NOTICE AND DEMAND
I have received your presentment dated [date], which I now return to you marked "Refused for Cause Without Dishonor".
Your presentment is hereby refused for cause, without dishonor, for the reason that I own the land which is the subject of your offer, exclusive of the rights of others to impose sanctions upon me, and my acceptance of your offer would cause me an unacceptable delay and expense, in exchange for no benefit to me.
If you disagree with my determination, then I hereby offer to accept your offer and comply with its terms, on the condition that you have any reasonable evidence of your right to make such demands. Specifically I am demanding discovery as follows:
- Present any evidence in your possession of your superior ownership of my land.
- Present any evidence in your possession that your laws or regulations can or may be lawfully applied upon land which you do not own, over the lawful objections of the rightful owner.
- For any laws or regulations you may present, please include all evidence in your possession that I am a "person required".
- Present any evidence in your possession that you own me, or in the absense of an exigent and urgent issue of health or public safety have the right to control or limit me in the exercise of my rights over my own private property.
- Present any evidence in your possession that the structure at-issue constitutes a danger to public health or safety.
- Present any evidence of sworn testimony from persons who claim to have been damaged or injured by the existence of the structure at-issue.
You are hereby given thirty days in which to compile and present the demanded evidence. Failure to answer or otherwise respond will result in abandonment of your claim.
All letters should be sent by U.S. Registered (not certified) Mail, with a return receipt.
You will, no doubt, receive an "unresponsive answer" before the end of the thirty days. This will also need to be refused for cause, on the grounds it is an unresponsive answer.
After the thirty days you send a notice of fault, giving ten more days. After the ten days you send a notice of default.
The noice of default will follow this form:
By your default, you admit you have no evidence of your superior ownership of my land.
By your default, you admit you have no evidence that your laws or regulations can or may be lawfully applied upon land which you do not own, over the lawful objections of the rightful owner.
...and so on.
RWL's letters, at least in my opinion, were not quite as thorough. But we've all had time to learn in the years since they've come and gone. Even with lesser letters, their members had quite a bit of success with getting oppressors to go away and leave them alone.
Obviously, I cannot guarantee this will work. But it does cover all the lawful bases according to my best grasp of the subject. Other readers may have some input into this, which I welcome.