Dorchester County, MD
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

§ 155-64 Intent.

Within the districts established by this chapter and later amendments hereto, there exist nonconforming situations: lots, buildings and structures, uses of land and uses of buildings or structures and land in combination which were lawful before this chapter was passed and amended, but which would be prohibited or restricted under the terms of this chapter or future amendment. It is the intent of this chapter to permit these nonconformities to continue until they are removed, but not to encourage their survival. It is further the intent of this chapter that nonconformities shall not be enlarged upon, expanded or extended, except as hereinafter provided, nor be used as grounds for adding other structures or uses prohibited elsewhere in the same district.

§ 155-65 Determination of nonconforming situations.

A. 
The Director of Planning shall determine, based on fact, whether or not a nonconforming situation exists. Such a determination may be appealed to the Board of Appeals.
B. 
The casual, intermittent, temporary or illegal use of land or structures shall not be sufficient to establish the existence of a nonconforming use.
C. 
The existence of a nonconforming use on a part of a premises shall not necessarily be construed to establish a nonconforming use on the entire premises.

§ 155-66 Replacement of damaged nonconforming uses or structures.

A. 
When replacement may occur. Whether damaged nonconforming uses or structures may or may not be replaced depends on the extent of the damage to the use or structure compared to the fair market value immediately prior to the damage.
(1) 
Damage less than 50% of fair market value. A nonconforming structure or nonconforming use which has been damaged to the extent of 50% or less of fair market value of the structure or use immediately prior to damage may be repaired, reconstructed or used as before the time of damage.
(2) 
Damage more than 50% of fair market value. A nonconforming structure or nonconforming use which has been damaged to the extent of more than 50% of fair market value of the structure or use immediately prior to damage shall not be restored and used except in conformity with this chapter, except that:
(a) 
Any lawfully existing dwelling unit may be repaired or replaced at its prior location, subject to the tidewater buffer requirements of § 155-38J.
(b) 
The Board of Appeals may approve a special exception for the replacement of a nonconforming use, provided that the Board finds that the use meets the general standards, and specific standards if applicable, for granting a special exception.
(c) 
The Board of Appeals may approve a variance for the replacement of a nonconforming structure subject to its finding that the criteria for granting variances in § 155-20D are met.
B. 
Determination of extent of damage.
(1) 
The Director of Planning shall determine whether the extent of damage to the use or structure exceeds the fifty-percent threshold.
(2) 
If the Director determines that the extent of damage is questionable, he may require an appraisal of damage and fair market value. Appraisals shall be done by a licensed contractor or certified appraiser at the owner's expense and submitted to the Director for a determination as to the extent of damage. The Director may retain the services of a second certified appraiser.

§ 155-67 Expansion or modification of nonconforming uses or structures.

A. 
Except as noted below under § 155-67B, a nonconforming use or nonconforming structure may not be modified or expanded to increase the degree of its nonconformity without approval by the Board of Appeals.
(1) 
Nonconforming uses.
(a) 
The Board of Appeals may approve a special exception for the expansion or modification of a nonconforming use, provided that the Board finds that the use meets the general standards, and specific standards if applicable, for granting a special exception.
(b) 
No approval may be granted that expands a nonconforming use by more than 100% of the land area, gross floor area or square footage in use at the time of the creation of the nonconforming situation.
(2) 
Nonconforming structures. The Board of Appeals may approve a variance for the expansion or modification of a nonconforming structure subject to its finding that the criteria for granting variances in § 155-20D are met.
B. 
Expansion or modification of nonconforming residential structures and uses in B or I Districts.
(1) 
Except as noted below in Subsection B(2), nonconforming residential structures and uses in B or I Districts may be expanded or modified without approval by the Board of Appeals, provided that such structures meet the bulk regulations of the zoning district where they are located.
(2) 
A new special exception is required to modify or expand a single-family dwelling that was approved by special exception in the B-1 District.
C. 
Administrative variances.
(1) 
Administrative variances in the critical area authorized in § 155-38M(9) are not subject to this section.
[Added 5-8-2012 by Bill No. 2012-1]

§ 155-68 Discontinuance of existing nonconforming uses and nonconforming structures.

A. 
Any abandoned nonconforming dwelling unit lawfully existing at the time of the adoption or amendment of this chapter may be reoccupied, provided that:
(1) 
Said structure shall be reoccupied solely as a dwelling unit; and
(2) 
Said reoccupation shall be subject to all prevailing local and state regulations.
B. 
When any other nonconforming use or nonconforming structure is discontinued or abandoned for 12 consecutive months, the use or structure shall not thereafter be used except in conformity with the regulations of the district in which it is located.

§ 155-69 Nonconforming lots and parcels.

A. 
Nonconforming lots of record. Development on nonconforming lots of record is subject to the modification provisions of § 155-51E.
B. 
Nonconforming lots that are not lots of record. Nonconforming lots that are not lots of record are not eligible for the modification provisions of § 155-51E, and new development must comply with the height, area, bulk and setback requirements for the district in which it is located, unless the Board of Appeals grants a variance.
C. 
When two or more contiguous lots (lots of record) or parcels under single ownership are used in combination to construct a structure or have previously had a structure constructed across existing property lines of lot(s) of record, the property owner is required to acknowledge that previous action showed intent to combine the lots or parcels by signing and recording a covenant agreement not to separate the lots in the future. The covenant agreement which combines the previous lots of record or parcels into one must be signed by the owner and recorded in land records before issuance of a permit.
[Added 6-13-2000 by Ord. No. 282]

§ 155-70 Creation of nonconforming lot; continuance of uses permitted by special exception.

A. 
A lot reduced in area by reason of a realignment of a county or state road or by reason of a condemnation proceeding which results in the creation of a nonconforming lot or nonconforming structure shall be permitted without need for a variance.
B. 
Any legally conducted use or structure which exists at the effective date of this chapter which is a special exception in the district where it is located shall, without further action, be considered a conforming special exception. In no case will such a use be subject to Board of Appeals action should a fire or other casualty occur and consequently require the replacement, restoration or reconstruction for the use as it existed prior to the casualty. Such use, however, shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Board of Appeals for expansion, modification or enlargement.