Planning to build an office for your new business? Looking to organize a parade down the city streets? Want to complain about a neighbor's noisy party last night? It'll be helpful to know your area's local ordinances.
The question is, where do you learn about these ordinances?
Thankfully, there are a number of places to look. One of the traditional ways is to look up your area's Municipal Code. You're likely to find a copy at the public library, or at your city or town hall. Many schools also have a copy handy, and so do other local government buildings. More often than not, attorney's offices also have a copy of the code.
If you find you're allergic to books, however, or would rather read up on the ordinances in the comfort of your own home, then go online. There are a multitude of sites on the internet that hold information on local ordinances:
Search Engines - The quickest way is to Google (your locality) + "local ordinance". You'll get more than a few hits that'll lead you to them. As with all searches, though, the first link you hit may not have the exact information you're looking for. Specify your searches as much as possible to narrow down the number of hits.
City and County Websites - You could also try looking up your locality's official website. Most of the websites follow the same formula for their addresses:
For Cities - www.ci.<the city's name>.<state's two-letter postal code>.us
For Counties - www.co.<the county's name>.<state's two-letter postal code>.us
For example, if you're looking for Washington, North Carolina's city website, you can follow the formula above and go to www.ci.washington.nc.us. Your state's website might also be able to direct you to your locality's ordinances.
City Info Sites - Several sites have conveniently put compiled information the country's cities. One popular example is www.city-data.com, which contains mountains upon mountains of helpful data. Your can enter your locality in the search bar right smack in the middle of the site, or you can browse by state directly underneath.
Another helpful site is the National Association of Counties website, www.naco.org. Thanks to its focus on counties, the available information is a lot more streamlined. Just mouse over "About Counties" and click "Find a County" in the menu that drops down. You can do a search for your county, or click on your state on the colorful map displayed.
Law Sites - If the city or county website doesn't have the information you need, you can also look through a variety of law websites for your local ordinances. www.statelocalgov.net contains a wealth of data on local governance, as does www.municode.com. If you've got a pretty good idea of what you're looking for, you can take full advantage of www.findlaw.com's search engine.
As you can see, finding your area's local ordinance is really easy, as there are many convenient places to look. Reading up on them and understanding them can make certain matters a lot easier for you, and it's advised you look them up every once in a while.