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(A) Description. A nonconforming use is a land use that was lawfully established in accordance with all 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 the use is now located. Lawfully established uses that do not comply with any applicable separation (or spacing) distance requirements (e.g., those that require one land use to be located a certain minimum distance from another land use) are also deemed nonconforming uses.
(B) Change of use. A nonconforming use may be changed to any other use that is allowed in the subject zoning district. Once changed to a conforming use, a nonconforming use may not be re-established.
(C) Expansion of use.
(1) Except as otherwise expressly stated, a nonconforming use may be expanded into another part of the same building as that building existed on the date that the use became nonconforming, provided that the Zoning Administrator determines such expansion:
(a) Will not result in a violation of off-street parking or loading requirements; and
(b) That no floor area is being added to the building to accommodate the use expansion.
(2) Nonconforming open-air uses may not be expanded beyond the area occupied by the use at the time it became nonconforming.
(3) Expansion for the sole purpose of complying with off-street parking standards of this zoning ordinance is not considered expansion of a nonconforming use.
(D) Remodeling and improvements. A building in which a nonconforming use is located may be remodeled or otherwise improved as long as the remodeling or improvements do not violate the other regulations of this article.
(E) Moving. A nonconforming use may be moved in whole or in part to another location on the same lot only if the movement or relocation does not increase the extent of the nonconformity. A nonconforming use may be moved to another lot only if the use is allowed under the zoning regulations that apply to that (relocation) lot.
(F) Loss of nonconforming status.
(a) Once a nonconforming use is abandoned, its nonconforming status is lost and any new, replacement use must comply with the regulations of the zoning district in which it is located.
(b) A nonconforming use is presumed abandoned when the use is discontinued or ceases for a continuous period of one year or more.
(c) The presumption of abandonment may be rebutted upon showing, to the satisfaction of the Zoning Administrator, that during such period the owner of the land or structure has been:
1. Maintaining the land and structure in accordance with all applicable county requirements and did not intend to discontinue the use;
2. Actively and continuously marketing the land or structure for sale or lease for that particular nonconforming use; or
3. Engaged in other activities that affirmatively prove there was not intent to abandon.
(d) Any period of discontinued use caused by government action, unintended fire or natural disaster will not be counted in calculating the length of discontinuance.
(e) No court decreed land use will be considered to have been abandoned due to discontinuance.
(2) Change to conforming use. If a nonconforming use is changed to a conforming use, no matter how short the period of time, all nonconforming use rights are lost and re-establishment of the nonconforming use is prohibited.
(3) Accidental damage or destruction. When a building containing a nonconforming use is accidentally destroyed or damaged by causes that are not within the control of the property owner or tenant, the building may be restored or repaired, provided that no new nonconformities are created and that the existing extent of nonconformity is not increased. A building permit to reconstruct a destroyed or damaged structure must be obtained within 18 months of the date of occurrence of such damage.
(4) Intentional destruction. When a building containing a nonconforming use is intentionally damaged or destroyed by causes within the control of the owner and the extent of damage or destruction is more than 50% of the replacement cost of the structure, the use may not be reestablished except in compliance with all regulations applicable to the zoning district in which it is located.
(G) Continued farming of rezoned land. The nonconforming use provisions of this section are not intended and will not be interpreted to prohibit continued agricultural use on vacant land that has been rezoned for residential, commercial, industrial or other purposes. This provision is intended to clarify that previously established agricultural uses may continue on property that has been rezoned prior to the time that the property is actually developed.
(H) Accessory uses. No use that is accessory to a principal nonconforming use may continue after the principal nonconforming use has ceased.
(I) Conversion to special use. A nonconforming use may be converted to a special use by the granting of a special use permit, in accordance with the special use permit procedures of § 155-16.40. This conversion may occur only when it is shown that the nonconforming use is providing a particular service to the residents of Will County and that the use is not detrimental to the county as a whole or to surrounding properties.
(Ord. effective 10-1-2012)