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Thread: Spot zoning or nonconforming use?

  1. #1

    Spot zoning or nonconforming use?

    This building on a C1 (low density commercial zone) was used as part residential and part office. The neighborhood, despite this classification, was mostly residential (these predated the zoning code). Years later it was rezoned to residential (not allowing home occupation or offices). Years after that, the owner of the building moved his residence elsewhere, but filed an application to the city to grant permission to use the entire building as an office. Reasons he gave for not converting the property to residential were: 1) the cost of conversion would cost half of its full value assessment as an office and residence, and 2) the rental value would not allow him to pay the mortgage and property taxes on the property if converted to a residence.

    the guy's neighbor was protesting the grant of this permission. do you think this situation constitutes spot zoning or should the grant be OK since it is a prior nonconforming use? i'm feeling stuck between these two ideas.

  2. #2
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    In the strictest sense of non-conforming status rules (they tend to be similar from one muni. to another) He should not be allowed to expand the amount/scale of office use for the property. Basically, the amount of building sqft used for office space now is the maximum allowed.

    Does your code allow for Land Use Variations? Where I work, for uses that are not permitted in a zoning district, we allow for the request of Land Use Variations for specific uses and are attached only to a specific user, like if a florist wanted to operate in a residential district, any approval would only be for that specific florist, but no future ones.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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  3. #3
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Its not spot zoning unless his property actually gets rezoned to commercial. Whether the commercial expansion is legal or not ultimately depends on your local and state regulations. But like Mendelman said, unless your regulations specifically allow for that type of expansion its probably illegal.

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