17-15-0300  Nonconforming uses.
   17-15-0301 Definition. A nonconforming use is a land use that was lawfully established in accordance with zoning regulations in effect at the time of its establishment but that is no longer allowed by the use regulations of the zoning district in which it is now located.
   17-15-0302 Change of Use.
      17-15-0302-A A nonconforming use may be changed to any other use allowed by the subject zoning classification.
      17-15-0302-BThe Zoning Administrator is authorized to approve an administrative adjustment allowing a nonconforming use to be changed to another use that is classified in the same use category (See description of “Use Groups and Categories”, Sec. 17-17-0100) or to another functionally similar use, provided that the Zoning Administrator determines that the substituted use will create no greater adverse impacts on the surrounding area than the previous use. In making such a determination, the Zoning Administrator must consider all of the following factors:
         1.   hours of operation,
         2.   vehicular traffic;
         3.   the number of employees and other people expected to be attracted to the use; and
         4.   other factors likely to affect the neighborhood in which it is located.
      17-15-0302-C The Alderman of the ward in which such nonconforming use is located must be notified at the time of filing of a use substitution application with the Zoning Administrator.
      17-15-0302-D A nonconforming use of open land may not be changed to any other nonconforming use of open land.
   17-15-0303 Expansion.
      17-15-0303-A Except as otherwise expressly stated, the Zoning Administrator is authorized to approve an administrative adjustment allowing a nonconforming use to be expanded into another part of the same building, provided that the Zoning Administrator determines that such expansion:
         1.   will not result in a violation of off- street parking or loading requirements;
         2.   will not violate any applicable bulk or density standards;
         3.   will not result in greater adverse impacts on the surrounding area; and
         4.   is not expressly prohibited by Sec. 17-15-0303-B.
      17-15-0303-B The following nonconforming uses may not be expanded:
         1.   a nonconforming use of open land;
         2.   a use that is allowed under this Zoning Ordinance only as a special use (Note: allowed special uses may be expanded only in accordance with Sec. 17-13-0910);
         3.   a nonconforming business, commercial or manufacturing use in an R district unless expressly approved as a variation in accordance with Sec. 17-13-1100;
         4.   a nonconforming business or commercial use in a B or C district if such expansion triggers a requirement for additional off-street parking or loading spaces;
         5.   a nonconforming residential, business or commercial use in an M district if such expansion:
            (a)   increases the number of dwelling units or residential occupancy;
            (b)   increases the area of the zoning lot; or
            (c)   increases the floor area by more than 20%.
      17-15-0303-CDetached houses that are a nonconforming use in a B, C or M district may be expanded by up to 30% of the structure's existing floor area, provided that such expansion may not exceed the maximum allowable floor area ratio of the district in which the structure is located.
      17-15-0303-D Nonconforming coach houses on properties designated as official Chicago Landmarks or located within the boundaries of a Chicago Landmark District may be used as a dwelling unit for a single household if the Zoning Administrator determines that competent evidence exists that the coach house was previously used as a legal dwelling unit. Incidental repairs and normal maintenance necessary to keep nonconforming coach house in sound condition are permitted, but no expansions are allowed.
      17-15-0303-E Nonconforming coach houses on properties outside the boundaries of a Chicago Landmark District may continue to be occupied as dwelling units provided that they have not been continuously vacant for more than one year. Incidental repairs and normal maintenance necessary to keep nonconforming coach house in sound condition are permitted, but no expansions are allowed.
      17-15-0303-FDwelling units that are a nonconforming use in a C, M or DS district may be registered under Chapter 4-14 of the Municipal Code of Chicago and used as a shared housing unit subject to review and approval by the Zoning Administrator in accordance with the administrative adjustments process set forth in Section 17-13-1003-LL*.
* Editor's note – As provided in Coun. J. 6-22-16, p. 27712, § 15; reference should likely be Section 17-13-1003-M.
   17-15-0304 Loss of Nonconforming Use Status.
      17-15-0304-A Discontinuance.
         1.   If a nonconforming use is discontinued for 18 continuous months or more, all nonconforming use rights are lost and re-establishment of the nonconforming use is prohibited.
         2.   If a nonconforming adult use or open use of land is discontinued for 6 continuous months or more, all nonconforming use rights are lost and re-establishment of the nonconforming use is prohibited.
         3.   If a nonconforming use ceases operations (even if the structure or equipment related to the use remain) or fails to maintain a valid business license the use will be considered to have been discontinued.
      17-15-0304-B Intentional Destruction. When a structure containing a nonconforming use is intentionally damaged by causes within the control of the owner, re-establishment of the nonconforming use is prohibited.
   17-15-0305 Discontinuance of Nonconforming Open Uses of Land.
      17-15-0305-A On or before December 31, 2006, the Zoning Administrator must complete a survey of all existing nonconforming uses of open land.
      17-15-0305-B Within 90 days of the completion of the survey, the Zoning Administrator must provide written notice, return receipt requested, to the property owners of such properties. The notice must inform the property owners of the requirements of this section (Sec. 17-15-0305).
      17-15-0305-C On or before June 1, 2010, existing nonconforming open uses of land within R districts must cease and all above-ground improvements and structures accessory to the use must be removed.
      17-15-0305-D Any open use of land in an R district that becomes nonconforming because of subsequent amendments to this Zoning Ordinance must also be rezoned or discontinued within 5 years of the effective date of the amendment that renders the use nonconforming.
   17-15-0306 Accessory Uses and Structures. A use that is accessory to a principal nonconforming use may not be continued after the principal use has been abandoned, unless the use is also an accessory use to the principal uses allowed in the subject zoning district.
   17-15-0307 Vacation rentals – Nonconforming use.
   (a)   Notwithstanding any other provision of this Zoning Ordinance, any vacation rental located in a RS3, RT3.5 or RT4 District shall be a considered as a legal nonconforming use for purposes of this Zoning Ordinance if the Zoning Administrator determines that the vacation rental was in existence and operating for more than one year prior to the effective date of this 2010 ordinance. The owner of the vacation rental shall have the burden to prove that the vacation rental meets the qualifications of this section. Proof of existence and operation shall include payment of any hotel tax, or similar tax, if applicable, and any other evidence required by the Zoning Administrator which demonstrates the existence and operation of the vacation rental. The owner of any vacation rental seeking a determination under this section shall provide such proof no later than 90 days after the effective date of this 2010 ordinance.
   (b)   Notwithstanding subsection (a), any expansion of the vacation rental shall be considered a new use.
   Nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing the operation of a vacation rental without any license required by the Municipal Code. If an owner of a vacation rental fails to obtain a vacation rental license pursuant to Section 4-6-300 within 180 days after the effective date of this 2010 ordinance, the vacation rental shall no longer be deemed as a legal nonconforming use.
(Added Coun. J. 5-26-04, p. 25275; Amend Coun. J. 3-9-05, p. 44391; Amend Coun. J. 11-3-10, p. 104527; Amend Coun. J. 5-9-12, p. 27485, § 197; Amend Coun. J. 11-8-12, p. 38872, § 281; Amend Coun. J. 6-22-16, p. 27712, § 15)