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An Ohio man has been ordered to remove a Zombie nativity scene from his front yard by township officials.
Jasen Dixon built the homemade 10-by-10-foot structure three weeks ago, reports The Columbus Dispatch. Inside, life-size figures including a zombie Jesus and skeletal wise men re-enact a zombified version of the typical Christmas nativity scene. But officials in Sycamore Township, near Cincinnati, are threatening Dixon with legal action if he doesn't remove the scene by Friday.
What do officials say Dixon did wrong?
Scene Violates Local Property Codes: Township
Officials aren't telling Dixon to take down the scene because of its content, which would almost certainly raise First Amendment freedom of speech issues. Rather, township officials are ordering Dixon remove the scene because it allegedly violates local property maintenance codes.
After the township received complaints about the scene, they informed Dixon that the structure's size and location did not conform to the local property codes. Dixon told The Columbus Dispatch that he was also cited for debris on his property -- debris that has never been an issue during the 15 years he has lived in the neighborhood.
Zoning and Land Use Regulations
Governments generally have the power to regulate the use of land through zoning and land use regulations. Zoning ordinances can generally limit the ability of the owner to build structures over a certain size or more than a certain number of structures on a piece of land.
In this case, the Sycamore Township officials claim that Dixon's scene takes up more than 35 percent of his front yard, which is a violation of the township's rules regarding accessory structures, reports Cincinnati's WLWT-TV.
If Dixon fails to remove the scene by Friday, he faces a $1,000 fine.