How can I register a property as a legal Non-conforming Use?
To register a property for non-conforming use, submit a non-conforming use application and supporting documents to the Office of Planning and Zoning. See the three non-conforming use forms above. The supporting documents are needed to prove that the use has existed and operated continuously since its inception. The zoning regulations also require you to submit a site plan or location survey reflecting the current use of the property, all improvements, and the extent of each use in square footage.
What kind of supporting documents should be submitted?
Along with the site plan or location survey, the applicant should submit evidence such as building permits, zoning certificates of use, certificates of occupancy, licenses, leases, statements, bills, rental records, insurance policies, gas, electric or other utility records, dated photographs, any type of business records, or income tax returns. All evidence submitted must remain in the file for at least 30 days after a decision is rendered.
Can affidavits be submitted as evidence?
Yes, notarized affidavits may be submitted as secondary evidence to account for a lapse of time when documentary evidence cannot substantiate the continued use of the property. However, affidavits alone are not generally considered sufficient evidence to grant a non-conforming use.
Am I responsible for placing a notice on the property?
Yes, you are responsible for placing a sign on the property notifying the public of the pending application. When the sign is ready, you will be contacted by the Office of Planning and Zoning to arrange to pick up the sign. You are required to post and maintain the sign for 14 days.
How long will the process take?
If an application is complete and all supporting documents are provided at the time of submittal, the process may be completed within 60 to 90 days. The process will take longer if the application is incomplete and/or the supporting evidence does not substantiate the use.
How am I informed of the decision?
A written Administrative Decision for a noncorming use is sent by certified mail to the applicant. Property owners within 175’ of the subject property receive a decision notice informing them if the decision was approved or denied.
What if the decision is denied or partially approved?
Once an Administrative Decision is rendered, it can be appealed by the applicant or an aggrieved party to the Board of Appeals within 30 days of the date that the decision was signed by the Planning and Zoning Officer. After 30 days, the decision cannot be appealed. There is a fee to appeal an Administrative Decision. For information on the fee and to obtain a form, contact the Board of Appeals at (410) 222-1119.
What about a change in ownership?
A legal non-conforming use remains with the property and can be transferred to a new owner. The Office of Planning and Zoning must be notified of the change in ownership of a non-conforming property to update records and to send the annual questionnaire to the property owner of record. In transferring a legal non-conforming use to a new property owner, the Administrative Decision recognizing the nonconforming use should be part of the legal records that are conveyed to the new owner.
Can a legal non-conforming use expand?
A legal non-conforming use may be expanded up to 30% of the recognized area. This expansion must be requested through a special exception application submitted to the Office of Planning and Zoning . If the special exception is approved by the Administrative Hearing Officer, a property owner may expand the nonconforming use as described in the special exception decision.
Where is my yearly questionnaire?
The County will NOT be sending questionnaires regarding the continuous use of the nonconforming property. If the use is questioned be prepared to provide evidence of the use for the last three (3) years.
Can a nonconforming use be terminated?
A nonconforming use still terminates if the use ceases operation for 12 consecutive months or when the scope of the use is so significantly reduced during the 12-month period as to change the nature or character. If the use is questioned be prepared to provide evidence of the use for the last three (3) years.