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Nonconforming Uses
Nonconforming lots of record. (See also Article XI: Nonconformities and § 400-102: Use of nonconforming lots of record below). If a use is proposed to span adjoining nonconforming lots, the lots shall be combined into a single parcel in accord with the requirements of Chapter 355: Subdivision and Land Development.
Nonconformities
1. Purpose, applicability, registration, and continuation and change.
A. Purpose.
(1) It is the purpose of this article to recognize that if, prior to the adoption of the original Township Zoning Ordinance, as amended, reenacted and replaced, property was used for a then-lawful purpose or in a then-lawful manner which the Zoning Ordinance would render thereafter prohibited and nonconforming, such property is generally held to have acquired a vested right to continue such nonconforming use or nonconforming structure. Nevertheless, this does not preclude the Township from regulating the change, alteration, reconstruction, reestablishment, extension, destruction and abandonment of nonconforming uses in accord with the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code and general case law.
(2) It is also the purpose of this article to limit the injurious impact of nonconforming lots, structures and uses on other adjacent properties within a particular district and the community as a whole, while recognizing that the change, alteration, reconstruction, reestablishment, or extension of nonconforming lots, structures and uses may not be contrary to the public interest or the general purpose of this chapter, when failure to allow such change, alteration, reconstruction, reestablishment, or extension would itself lead to neighborhood or district deterioration.
(3) It is further the purpose of this article to prescribe those standards which are to be applied by the Township in determining the reasonableness of a proposal to change, alter, reconstruct, reestablish, or extend a nonconforming use. The following are regulations which shall apply.
B. Applicability. The provisions and protections of this article shall apply only to those nonconforming lots, structures and uses which legally pre-existed the applicable provisions of this chapter, as amended, or which are recognized by § 400-94: Nonconformities under development or § 400-95: Nonconformities by variance of this article. Any lot, structure or use created, constructed or established after the effective date of the original Zoning Ordinance, as amended, reenacted and replaced, which does not conform to the applicable requirements shall be considered an illegal lot, structure or use subject to the penalties prescribed by this chapter, and the said lot, structure or use shall not be entitled to any of the protections afforded to legal, preexisting nonconforming lots, structures or uses.
C. Registration. It shall be the responsibility of the party asserting a nonconformity to provide the evidence, including photographs, that the nonconformity is legal. A property owner may request a written certificate of nonconformity from the Zoning Officer after providing sufficient evidence.
D. Continuation and change. A lawful nonconforming lot, structure or use as defined by this chapter may be continued and may be sold and be continued by new owners subject to the other provisions of this chapter. Any expansion, alteration, extension or change in a nonconformity shall only proceed in compliance with this article.
2. Definitions.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
NONCONFORMING LOT
A lot the area or dimension of which was lawful prior to the effective date of this chapter, as amended, but which fails to conform to the requirements of the zoning district in which it is located by reasons of the adoption or amendment of this chapter.
NONCONFORMING STRUCTURE
A structure or part of a structure manifestly not designed to comply with the applicable use or extent of use provisions of this chapter or amendment heretofore or hereafter enacted, where such structure lawfully existed prior to the enactment of this chapter or amendment or prior to the application of this chapter or amendment to its location by reason of annexation. Such nonconforming structures include, but are not limited to, nonconforming signs.
NONCONFORMING STRUCTURE, ALTERATION
As applied to a nonconforming structure, a change or rearrangement in the structural parts or in the existing facilities, or an enlargement, whether by extending on a side or by increasing in height, or the moving from one location or position to another.
NONCONFORMING STRUCTURE, RECONSTRUCTION
The rebuilding of a nonconforming structure damaged or destroyed by casualty to the exact or less-nonconforming condition which existed prior to the casualty.
NONCONFORMING USE
A use, whether of land or of structure, which does not comply with the applicable use provisions of this chapter or amendment heretofore or hereafter enacted, where such use was lawfully in existence prior to the enactment of this chapter or amendment, or prior to the application of this chapter or amendment to its location by reason of annexation.
NONCONFORMING USE, CHANGE
The conversion of a nonconforming use to a different use classification as enumerated in the Schedule of Uses.[1]
NONCONFORMING USE, ENLARGEMENT
The extension of a nonconforming use throughout the structure which the said use partially occupies; or the expansion of a nonconforming use onto land area not already occupied by the said use.
NONCONFORMING USE, REESTABLISHMENT
The reopening or reinstitution of a nonconforming use which has been discontinued by the owner of the said use, such reopening effected prior to the abandonment of the nonconforming use as determined under the provisions of this chapter.
3. Nonconformities under development.
For the purposes of this article, a building, structure or use, legally permitted, planned and substantially under construction in compliance with existing ordinances prior to the effective date of this chapter, or any amendment hereto, and completed within a one-year period after the effective date of this chapter or amendment hereto, shall be considered nonconforming.
4. Nonconformities by variance.
A building, structure or use allowed by variance in a district where it is nonconforming with any regulations of this chapter, as amended, reenacted and replaced, shall be considered nonconforming for the purposes of this chapter.
5. Normal maintenance and repair activities.
Normal maintenance and repair, such as painting, replacement of siding, and similar activities is allowed, as well as those interior renovations which do not structurally alter the building or area or result in increased use of the building or area, or a change of nonconformity, or otherwise create more incompatibility with the permitted use provisions of this chapter. Such maintenance and repair activities shall, however, shall comply with all other applicable standards and permit requirements of this chapter.
6. Changes.
A. Change to conforming use. A nonconforming use may be changed to a conforming use. A change of a nonconforming use to a conforming use shall be considered an abandonment of the nonconforming use and the new use shall not thereafter revert to a nonconforming use.
B. Change to another nonconforming use. As determined by the Zoning Officer and subject to the issuance of a change of use permit, a nonconforming use may be changed to another nonconforming use which is substantially of the same character and not subject to more restrictive standards than the existing nonconforming use. Any such change shall be considered an abandonment of the prior nonconforming use and the new use shall not thereafter revert to the prior use.
7. Enlargement.
A. Permit. All enlargements of nonconforming uses into more area of a structure or onto more area of the property shall require the applicable zoning permit.
B. Enlargement limited to same parcel; new structures prohibited. Enlargements of a nonconforming use shall be limited to the same parcel of property on which the nonconforming use is situated as said parcel existed on the effective date of this chapter, as amended. For any nonconforming uses not involving a structure, no new structures shall be permitted as part of an enlargement.
C. Enlargement limitation. An enlargement of land or structure used for the nonconforming use shall be limited to a total increase not to exceed 33.33% of land or 33.33% of structure beyond what existed on the effective date of this chapter, as amended. All such enlargements of a nonconforming use may be permitted in successive increments for a total up to the increase permitted; and each increment shall be a separate application. Applications for successive increments shall only be entertained by the Township upon the completion of the previously approved enlargement.
D. Compliance with standards. In addition to complying with the requirements of this section, an enlargement of a nonconforming use shall comply with all setback, height, lot coverage, parking and other standards of this chapter.
E. Nonconforming setbacks. A structure which is nonconforming as to a side or rear setback requirement may be extended along the nonconforming setback line a distance not to exceed 50% of the length of the nonconforming part of the structure as it existed at the effective date of this chapter. However, the height of any such extension shall not exceed the lesser of the existing height of the nonconforming structure or the applicable district maximum height.
8. Reconstruction.
A. Reconstruction permitted. Any lawful nonconforming building, structure or use which has been damaged or destroyed by fire, explosion, windstorm, or other natural or criminal causes may be reconstructed in the same location, provided that:
(1) The application for a zoning permit is submitted within one year of the date of the casualty.
(2) The nonconformity is not increased and no new nonconformity is created except for an enlargement of a nonconforming use in compliance with § 400-98: Enlargement.
(3) It was not voluntarily demolished. (See § 400-99E.)
B. Permit procedure. All applicable permits for the reconstruction of a nonconforming structure or use shall be required.
C. Time extension. The Zoning Officer may for good cause grant a one-time extension of not more than one year for the reconstruction of the nonconforming use. Said extension shall only be considered upon written application for same submitted by the property owner.
D. Nonconforming agricultural buildings. Reconstruction regulations shall not apply to active nonconforming agricultural buildings and active farms which may be restored by right.
E. Demolition. If a nonconforming structure or use is voluntarily demolished to an extent which exceeds 50% of the cost to replace the entire structure or use in accord with the most current construction standards, the reconstruction shall comply with current setback, lot coverage, height and other requirements of this chapter.
9. Abandonment and reestablishment.
A. Abandonment. If a nonconforming use of land or structure ceases operations, is discontinued, is vacated or is otherwise abandoned for a period of 18 months or more, then this shall be deemed to be an intent to abandon such nonconforming use, and any subsequent use of the land or structure shall be for conforming purposes only and said use shall in all respects conform to the applicable provisions of this chapter. A change of a nonconforming use to a conforming use shall be considered an abandonment of the nonconforming use which shall not thereafter revert to a nonconforming use.
B. Agricultural uses. Abandonment regulations shall not apply to agricultural uses.
10. Alterations of nonconforming structures.
The alteration or expansion of nonconforming structures shall be permitted only in accord with this section and other applicable standards in this chapter.
A. Permit. An alteration of a nonconforming structure shall require the applicable zoning permit.
B. Compliance with standards. An alteration of a nonconforming structure shall comply with all setback, height, lot coverage, parking and other standards of this chapter and shall not result in any increased nonconformity except for an enlargement of a nonconforming use in compliance with § 400-98: Enlargement.
C. Nonconforming setbacks. A structure which is nonconforming as to a side or rear setback requirement may be extended along the nonconforming setback line a distance not to exceed 50% of the length of the nonconforming part of the structure as it existed at the effective date of this chapter. However, the height of any such extension shall not exceed the lesser of the existing height of the nonconforming structure or the applicable district maximum height.
D. Increase in area or bulk nonconformity. In the case where a proposed alteration or expansion of a nonconforming structure will result in an increased nonconformity of setback, height, lot coverage or other area or bulk standard, a variance shall be required from the Zoning Hearing Board.
11. Use of nonconforming lots of record.
A. Principal permitted uses allowed. In all districts, a lawful nonconforming lot of record may be used for any use classified as a principal permitted use in the district of location, provided:
(1) Standards. All applicable standards in this chapter are satisfied.
(2) Lot size requirement. This chapter does not require a lot size for the specific use which is greater than the basic lot size for the district.
B. Combination required. If a use spans adjoining nonconforming lots, the lots shall be combined into a single parcel in accord with the requirements of Chapter 355: Subdivision and Land Development, of the Code of the Township of Coolbaugh.