The districts established by this chapter are designed to guide future use of land in the Township by encouraging development in appropriate groupings of compatible and related uses, to the end of promoting the purposes of this chapter.
Within the districts there exist lots, uses of land, and structures which were lawful before this chapter was passed or amended, but which would be prohibited, regulated, 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.
To achieve this end, lawfully existing nonconforming lots, uses of land, and structures must be subject to certain limitations. The regulations set forth below are intended to provide a gradual remedy for the undesirable conditions resulting from indiscriminate mixing of uses, and to afford a means whereby nonconformities can be gradually eliminated and reestablished in more suitable locations within the Township.
To avoid undue hardship, nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to require a change in the plans, construction, or designated use of any building on which actual construction was lawfully begun prior to the effective date of adoption or amendment of this chapter and upon which actual building construction has been carried on diligently. "Actual construction" is hereby defined to include the placing of construction materials in permanent position and fastened in a permanent manner. Where excavation or demolition or removal of an existing building has been substantially begun preparatory to rebuilding, such excavation or demolition or removal shall be deemed to be actual construction, provided that work shall be carried on diligently.
In any district in which single-family dwellings are permitted, a single-family dwelling and customary accessory buildings may be erected on any single lot of record at the effective date of adoption or amendment of this chapter, notwithstanding limitations imposed by other provisions of this chapter.
This provision shall apply even though such lot fails to meet the requirements for area or width, or both, that are generally applicable in the district, provided that yard dimensions and requirements other than these applying to area or width, or both, of the lot shall conform to the regulations for the district in which such lot is located. Variance of yard requirements shall be obtained only through action of the Zoning Hearing Board.
If two or more lots or combinations of lots and portions of lots with continuous frontage in single ownership are of record at the time of passage or amendment of this chapter, and if all or part of the lots do not meet the requirements established for lot width and area, the lands involved shall be registered with the Zoning Officer. Such lots shall be permitted to be developed subject to the regulations as stated in Subsection A for a period of five years from the effective date of the amendment of this chapter. Thereafter, the lands involved shall be considered to be an undivided parcel for the purposes of this chapter, and no portion of said parcel shall be used or sold in a manner which diminishes compliance with lot width and area requirements established by this chapter, nor shall any division of any parcel be made which creates a lot with width or area below the requirements stated in this chapter.
Lots which fail to meet minimum area requirements may be expanded to include adjacent lots with continuous frontage in single ownership.
Where a lawful use or structure exists which, on the effective date of this chapter or subsequent amendment thereto, becomes nonconforming, such use or structure may be continued as long as it remains otherwise lawful, including subsequent sales of the property, subject to the following provisions:
The existing nonconforming use shall not be changed to a new or different nonconforming use.
No such nonconforming structure shall be enlarged or increased without application to, and approval of, the Zoning Hearing Board based on the following limitations:
To provide for a natural expansion which is not detrimental to public health, safety, and general welfare.
Provided such expansion of a structure does not exceed 25% of the existing ground area of the structure.
Provided such does not constitute the addition of a new nonconforming use.
Provided such does not significantly decrease existing setbacks when such are already nonconforming.
Provided that, in addition to the requirements above, the enlargement or increase meets the standards for uses and structures as if same were being enlarged or increased in the district or districts where such use is permitted under this chapter.
In the event that any nonconforming structure is destroyed or partially destroyed by any means, the structure may be rebuilt, provided that the new or reconstructed structure does not significantly decrease previously existing setbacks if such were already nonconforming, and provided that a building permit be applied for within one year of the date damage was incurred. If the owner shall fail to obtain a building permit within the required time period, such nonconforming use shall terminate and the lot shall thereafter be used only for conforming uses and structures.
When a nonconforming use or structure is discontinued or abandoned for a period of one year or more, the structure and/or premises shall not thereafter be used except in conformity with the regulations of the district in which it is located.
In order to administer this chapter, the Zoning Officer shall identify and register all nonconforming lots, uses, and structures and shall receive application for registration of all nonconforming lots, uses and structures from the owner of record of such nonconformities. The Zoning Officer will issue a certificate of nonconformity for such use, structure, or lot after investigation of all supporting information submitted to prove such nonconformity does exist.