City of Monessen, PA
Westmoreland County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

§ 375-69 Proof and registration of nonconformities.

It shall be the responsibility of, with the burden of proof upon, a party asserting a nonconformity to provide the evidence that it is lawful. A property owner may request a written statement of nonconformity from the Zoning Officer after providing sufficient evidence.

§ 375-70 Continuation of nonconformities.

A. 
A lawful nonconforming use, structure or lot as defined by this chapter may be continued and may be sold and continued by new owners. Any expansion of, construction upon or change in use of a nonconformity shall only occur in conformance with this section.
B. 
District changes. Any uses, structures or lots that become nonconforming because of a zoning district change shall be regulated under this section on nonconformities.

§ 375-71 Expansion, construction upon or change in use of nonconformities.

A. 
Nonconforming structure.
(1) 
The Zoning Officer shall permit a nonconforming structure to be reconstructed or expanded, provided that:
(a) 
Such action will not increase the severity or amount of the nonconformity (such as the area of the building extending into the required setback) or create any new nonconformity; and
(b) 
Any expanded area will comply with the applicable setbacks in that district and other requirements of this chapter.
(2) 
If a nonconforming structure includes a nonconforming use, any expansion shall also meet the requirements of this section regarding nonconforming uses.
B. 
Nonconforming lots. For the purposes of this chapter, a lot shall only be considered to be a nonconforming lot if it has less lot area than is required by the applicable district requirements. A lot shall not be considered nonconforming because of insufficient lot width or a similar dimensional requirement.
(1) 
New permitted structures for a single permitted-by-right principal use and its customary accessory uses may be constructed, reconstructed or expanded on a nonconforming lot of record as a permitted-by-right use if all of the following requirements are met:
(a) 
The lot area is at least 20% of the minimum lot area.
(b) 
The lot is a lot of record that lawfully existed prior to the adoption of this chapter or an applicable subsequent amendment.
(c) 
Minimum setbacks and other requirements of this chapter are complied with for any new construction or expanded area.
(d) 
If a new principal building will be served by an on-lot septic system, the lot shall comply with all state septic regulations and shall provide an approved alternative drainfield location.
(2) 
Merger of lots. Contiguous parcels, tracts or lots under common ownership that are nonconforming because of lot area and that have a lot area of less than 10,000 square feet each shall be combined to form lots that would be conforming or less nonconforming. When lots, parcels or tracts are merged to result in a single lot, the individual preexisting parcels shall not be sold separately.
(a) 
In any case, two or more contiguous nonconforming parcels, lots or tracts under single ownership shall automatically be considered to be merged from the effective date of this chapter if land from one of the parcels, lots or tracts is needed to meet a lot area or setback requirement of a use on the abutting lot.
(3) 
If a proposed development on a nonconforming lot does not meet the requirements of the above Subsection B(1) and (2), then development of the lot shall not occur unless a variance is granted by the Zoning Hearing Board. In addition to the standards stated for a variance in the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code,[1] the Zoning Hearing Board shall also review whether any alternative permitted uses could reasonably be made of the property that would less significantly adverse impacts upon the established character of an existing residential neighborhood than the proposed use.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
C. 
Expansion of a nonconforming nonresidential use. A nonconforming use or a building used by a nonconforming use shall not be expanded, except in accordance with the following provisions:
(1) 
An expansion of more than 10% in total building floor area shall require approval by the Zoning Hearing Board as a special exception. The same standards as listed in § 375-18 for a conditional use shall apply.
(2) 
Such reconstruction or expansion shall be only upon the same lot that the nonconforming use was located upon at the time the use became nonconforming.
(3) 
The total building floor area used by a nonconforming use or the total area covered by impervious surfaces of a nonconforming use, whichever is more restrictive, shall not be increased by greater than 50% beyond each such measurement that existed in such use at the time such use became nonconforming. This maximum increase shall be measured in aggregate over the entire life of the nonconformity.
(4) 
Any expansion of a nonconforming use shall meet the required setbacks, lot area, maximum height, building coverage and impervious coverage requirements of this chapter unless the Zoning Hearing Board grants a variance.
D. 
Expansion of a nonconforming residential use. An existing nonconforming residential use may be expanded in floor area as a permitted-by-right use, provided that the number of dwelling units is not increased, the expansion meets all applicable setbacks, no new types of nonconformities are created and a nonconformity is not made more severe (including the building area within the required setback area).

§ 375-72 Damaged or destroyed nonconformities.

A. 
A nonconforming structure that has been destroyed or damaged equal to 50% or more of its total value by fire, windstorm, lightning or a similar cause deemed to be not the fault of the owner may rebuild in a nonconforming fashion only if the application for a building permit is submitted within 18 months after the date of damage or destruction, work begins in earnest within 12 months afterwards and no new nonconformity may be created or increased by any reconstruction. Property shall be properly secured during such time in such a way to keep out trespassers and to avoid harm to neighboring properties.
B. 
Rebuilding of a damaged or destroyed nonconformity shall not begin until plans for rebuilding have been presented and approved by the Zoning Officer. Any change of one nonconforming use to another nonconforming use shall comply with the provisions of this section.
C. 
Nonconforming use of open land. All nonconforming off-premises signs, junkyards, outside storage areas and similar nonconforming uses of open land, when damaged to an extent of 50% or more of replacement cost or when discontinued for more than six months, shall not be continued, repaired or reconstructed.

§ 375-73 Abandonment of a nonconformity.

A. 
If a nonconforming use of a building or land is discontinued, razed, removed or abandoned for 365 or more days, subsequent use of such building or land shall conform with the regulations of the district in which it is located, except:
(1) 
As provided for in the damaged or destroyed nonconformities provisions of this section; and
(2) 
If a nonconforming off-premises junkyard, outside storage area or similar nonconforming use of open land is discontinued for at least 30 days, the use shall not be continued, repaired or reconstructed.
B. 
The applicant shall be responsible to provide evidence that the nonconformity was not abandoned.

§ 375-74 Changes from one nonconforming use to another use.

A. 
Once changed to a conforming use, a structure or land shall not revert to a nonconforming use.
B. 
A nonconforming use may be changed to another nonconforming use only if permitted as a conditional use by the City Council. The City Council shall determine whether the applicant has provided sufficient proof to show that the proposed new use will be equally or less objectionable in external effects than the preexisting nonconforming use with regard to:
(1) 
Traffic generation (especially truck traffic).
(2) 
Noise, dust, fumes, vapors, gases, odor, glare, vibration, fire and explosive hazards.
(3) 
Amount and character of outdoor storage.
(4) 
Hours of operation if the use would be close to dwellings.
(5) 
Compatibility with the character of the surrounding area.