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Zoning Conformance: Zoning Conforming and Nonconforming Explained

Zoning is the mechanism municipalities use to control growth and development, minimize over-crowding and refer to during land use conflicts. Zoning tells property owners what and how they can and cannot build on their land. Zoning laws and definitions can become very complex and The Planning and Zoning Resource Corporation will explain zoning conformance and other areas of zoning as well.

The Effect of Zoning on "Pre-existing" Properties

A building in existence at the time a new zoning law is adopted is said to be "grand-fathered" or "legally nonconforming" and cannot be declared "nonconforming" or in violation. If the legally nonconforming structure is destroyed beyond the threshold set forth in the Code, the owner may be allowed to rebuild only in accordance with present zoning laws. Pre-existing uses and structures required legislative remedy.

Terms Related to Zoning Conformance Status

  • Legal Conforming
  • Legal Nonconforming
  • Nonconforming

Conformance Status - Legal Conforming

  1. The project meets all zoning district use, area, setback, height, density, and parking requirements according to the most recent zoning ordinance or land use requirements in your jurisdiction.
  2. The (legal) nonconforming rebuildability clause will not apply because the project is legal and has 100% right to rebuild in the event of any percentage of destruction.

Conformance Status - Legal Nonconforming

  1. The project was conforming at the time of construction but due to changes in the zoning ordinance, the governing jurisdiction, or zoning designation, the project is no longer in conformance.
  2. Jurisdictions have different rules governing legal nonconforming projects. Some allow 100% rebuild in the event of destruction while others require the local Planning Commission approval to rebuild, regardless of the percentage of destruction.
  3. All are subject to the Nonconforming Rebuildability Clause of the zoning ordinance as they have been granted certain legal protections for rebuild.

Conformance Status – Nonconforming

  1. The project does not conform to current zoning requirements, and did not conform to the requirements in place at the time of construction.
  2. In the event of destruction of any percentage or value, the project will required to be re-constructed according to the requirements of the current zoning ordinance.
  3. The Nonconforming Rebuildability Clause of the zoning ordinance will not apply to a nonconforming project because the site does not have a legal status.

For commercial real estate properties it is advisable to contact a Zoning Expert and Advisory firm such as PZR® to navigate through the complex zoning laws to ensure the project may continue and the property use will be in accordance to the proposed purchase as planned.

The Planning & Zoning Resource Company
America"s Leading Zoning Consultant
1300 South Meridian Avenue, Suite 400, Oklahoma City, OK 73108
Call Toll-Free: (800) 344-2944
Canada: (405) 840-4344 x4475
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