Within the districts established by this chapter or amendments thereof, there exist certain uses, structures and lots which were lawful before this chapter was enacted or amended, but which do not conform to the provisions of this chapter or amendment thereto. These uses, structures or lots are referred to as "nonconformities."
The regulations governing existing nonconforming uses, structures and lots are set forth in this article and are intended to provide a gradual remedy for the undesirable conditions resulting from such nonconformities. While such nonconformities are generally permitted to continue, these regulations are intended to restrict further investment in such nonconformities and to bring about their gradual reduction.
All structures, lots, uses of structures and uses of land that do not conform to the regulations of the district in which they are located after the effective date of this chapter or amendment thereto, shall be regarded as nonconforming and may be continued so long as they remain otherwise lawful, including subsequent sales of property. Such uses must comply with all safety related and other applicable regulations.
Once changed to a conforming use, no structure or land shall be permitted to revert to a nonconforming use. A nonconforming use may be changed to another equally restrictive or more restrictive nonconforming use only if permitted as a special exception and subject to the following conditions:
The applicant shall show that the nonconforming use cannot be reasonably changed to a conforming use.
The applicant shall show that the proposed change will be no more objectionable in external effects than the existing nonconforming use, or will be more appropriate than the existing nonconforming use with regard to:
Where a nonconforming use is conducted entirely on unenclosed premises, no structure to house or enclose such use, whether or not such structure would otherwise conform to zoning regulations, shall be permitted to be erected on the premises.
If a nonconforming use of a building or land is abandoned for six consecutive months or more, whereby the owner evidences and intention to discontinue the use, the subsequent use of such a building or land shall conform to the regulations of the district in which it is located, unless another nonconforming use is approved by the Zoning Hearing Board. Such approved use shall be initiated within 90 days after the end of the six-month period.
Except for residential structures, a nonconforming structure or a conforming structure devoted to a nonconforming use which has been destroyed by fire or other cause to an extent of not more than 50% of the value of the structure, or a nonconforming structure which has been legally condemned may be reconstructed and used for the same nonconforming use provided that:
The reconstructed structure shall not exceed the height, area and volume of the building destroyed or condemned.
Reconstruction of the structure shall commence within one year from the date the structure was destroyed or condemned, unless the Zoning Hearing Board shall authorize a special exception for an extension of this time limit.
A nonconforming residential structure that is destroyed or damaged by fire or other casualty or act of God may be restored to its condition prior to the occurrence.
A nonconforming use or structure may be extended, enlarged or altered when so authorized by the Zoning Officer, provided that the following conditions are met and a permit is obtained as per § 600-206.
It is clear that such enlargement or extension is not materially detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the surrounding area.
The proposed enlargement or extension only occurs on the tract where the nonconformity is currently located.
The area devoted to the nonconforming use shall not be increased by more than 25%. The nonconforming structure shall not be increased by more than 25% of its cubic content.
Any extension or enlargement of a building shall conform to the area, height and setback regulations of the district in which it is located.
Not more than one extension or enlargement to a nonconforming use or structure shall be granted.
On any nonconforming structure or portion of a structure containing a nonconforming use, work may be done in any period of six consecutive months on ordinary repairs or on repair or replacement of nonbearing walls, fixtures, wiring or plumbing, provided that the cubic content existing when it became nonconforming shall not be increased.
If a nonconforming structure or portion of a structure containing a nonconforming use becomes physically unsafe or unlawful due to lack of repairs and maintenance and is declared by the Zoning Officer to be unsafe or unlawful by reason of physical condition, it shall not thereafter be restored, repaired or rebuilt except in conformity with the regulations of the district in which it is located.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent the strengthening or restoring to a safe condition of any building or part thereof declared to be unsafe by the Zoning Officer or other official charged with protecting the public safety.
No nonconforming use shall displace a conforming use.
A lot held in single and separate ownership on the effective date of this chapter which does not contain the required minimum area or width may be used for the construction, alteration or reconstruction of a building, or may be otherwise used if the construction, alteration, reconstruction or other use is in compliance with the use, yard and setback provisions of this chapter.
No lot area shall be so reduced that the area of the lot or the dimensions of the open space shall be smaller than herein prescribed.
Regulations for nonconforming signs are in Article XIX relating to signs.
The Zoning Officer may prepare, or cause to be prepared, within three years after the effective date of this chapter, a complete list of all nonconforming uses, structures, lots and signs in the Township.
Whenever a lot is sold to a new owner, a previously lawful nonconforming use may be continued by the new owner.
A nonconforming structure altered or a nonconforming use created in violation of any previous provisions in this article shall be regarded as continuing in such violation and shall not enjoy the privilege of legal continuance conferred by § 600-217 upon other nonconforming structures and uses.