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Special Enforcement Section

The City of Milwaukee regulates what kind of activity goes on in various neighborhoods. Each parcel of the City is identified as being suitable for a certain type of residential or commercial use. The City of Milwaukee Board of Zoning Appeals hears cases that do not fit in an assigned zoning area.

The Department of Neighborhood Services investigates illegal or unpermitted usages. For example, an individual running a car repair business out of their garage may negatively impact an alley or residential neighborhood. Likewise, homeowners who convert attic space into living space create a hazard resulting in tragic consequences. History provides many examples of why the building and zoning codes are established to protect life and property. The fire on September 30, 1987 killed 12 people, 10 of which were children. They had been sleeping in illegally converted attic space. Overcrowding and exiting would be some of the items checked in a permitted use. Contact the Development Center's Plan Exam Section for free advice on what permits would be required or to determine the allowable use in a particular zoning district.

If you don't agree with the opinion of the Plan Exam Section interpretation of the Milwaukee Code of Ordinances (the zoning code), you can appeal for a variance by contacting the Board of Zoning Appeals. In most cases, support from the neighbors, providing code equivalency, and previous precedent will determine the outcome of your appeal.

Other related permits may be required from DNS's Development Center located at 809 N. Broadway 1st Floor. See the What Requires a Permit page for more information.

DEALING WITH NUISANCE VEHICLES.pdf (DNS-14) - A comprehensive guide to identifying the criteria that make a nuisance vehicle, the process of removing them, and common questions and answers about vehicle storage, parking and numbers allowed.

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Contact Us

Lake Tower
4001 S. 6th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53221  

(414) 286-3522

Special Enforcement Manager Archie Blunt
(414) 286-3853

Special Enforcement Supervisor Pete Laritson
(414) 286-2558

Special Enforcement Supervisor Mario Hernandez
(414) 286-5745

DNS Complaint Hotline
(414) 286-2268