Legal Non-Conforming Uses

picture of single story 50's home in AntiochDefinition: A legal non-conforming use is a use or structure which was legally established according to the applicable zoning and building laws of the time, but which does not meet current zoning and building regulations. A use or structure can become legal non-conforming due to rezoning, annexation, or revisions to the Zoning Code.

Must a Legal Non-Conforming Use be abandoned or altered to meet Current Regulations?

No, as long as the use is continuously operated and it is not discontinued or abandoned for more than a six (6) month period. However, if a legal non-conforming use is discontinued for six (6) months or more, the use loses its legal non-conforming status.

Can an abandoned Legal Non-Conforming Use be reinstated?

Possibly. A legal non-conforming use which has been discontinued for more than six (6) months may be reinstated with a Use Permit if it is found that the conversion to a conforming use would create undue hardship under the particular circumstances.

If a Legal Non-Conforming Structure is destroyed more than 50% of the replacement value by fire or other natural disaster can the use be re-established?

No. The structure may not be restored except in full conformity with the regulations for the district in which it is located, and the nonconforming use shall not be resumed.

If a Legal Non-Conforming Structure is damaged less than 50% of the replacement value by fire or other natural disaster can the use be re-established?

Yes. The building may be restored in its entirety if the new building does not:

  • Occupy any portion of the lot that was not occupied by the destroyed building;
  • Have a greater floor area than the destroyed building;
  • Exceed the height or number of stories contained in the destroyed building; and
  • The restoration is started within six months and diligently pursued to completion.

Is there a Time Limit for Restoration of Legal Non-Conforming Use for Fire Damage or Natural Disaster?

Yes. The owner has six (6) months from the date of the destruction to apply for a building permit, and six (6) months from the date of issuance of a building permit to begin construction. If these permits are not secured within the time limit specified, the use shall be considered discontinued and abandoned.

Expansion of a Legal Non-Conforming Use

A legal non-conforming use may be expanded through the issuance of a Use Permit.

Adding Non-Conforming Uses to a existing Legal Non-Conforming Use

No structure partially occupied by a non-conforming use shall be moved, altered, or enlarged in such a way as to permit the enlargement of the space occupied by the nonconforming use.

For more information on Legal Non-Conforming Uses, please refer to the Zoning Ordinance.