Continuing Non-Conforming Property Status Protection in the Local Zoning Ordinance

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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A non-conforming business may continue to operate and keep its non-conforming status protection after new zoning laws make it illegal to do so. However, any continued operation as such is subject to the approval of the local zoning authority. The business owner must be granted permission to be allowed to continue the non-conforming operation of his business. And it is not uncommon for the jurisdiction to permit a single owner to continue operating until that owner has been replaced or the business has shut down.

Continuing Non-Conforming Use

A non-conforming user cannot necessarily be ordered to discontinue operations of his or her business or to change the already established use of his property due to a change in zoning, which now indicates a non-compliant use. If a business owner can show the particular commercial use existed prior to the new zoning law, the owner may be eligible to continue operating regardless of the change as a non-conforming use. However, if the use is dangerous or drastically different from the newly-zoned neighborhood, it may not be permitted to continue and will be gradually phased out. Non-conforming uses may also face complaints and lawsuits, including a nuisance violation from surrounding property owners. A local zoning attorney can help answer questions about continued non-conforming status protection for the ongoing business. 

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