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Township of Unity, PA
Westmoreland County
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The following provisions shall apply to all nonconforming uses:
A. 
Development certificates. A development certificate must be obtained by the owner of any nonconforming use as evidence that the use lawfully existed prior to the adoption of the provision which made the use nonconforming.
B. 
Continuation, enlargement, change or restoration.
(1) 
Continuation. The lawful use of any lot, building or structure which was lawfully existing at the time of the enactment of this Chapter 118 of the Code of Unity Township on September 25, 1991 (Ord. No. O-1-91) or, in the case of an amendment to the use or dimensional requirements of this chapter, at the time of such amendment, may be continued as a nonconforming use except as hereinafter provided.
(2) 
Enlargement and expansion. A use that does not conform to the use regulations of the district in which it is located may be enlarged by special exception only one time, regardless of ownership of the site, provided that:
(a) 
The proposed enlargement is contained entirely within the parcel of property upon which the nonconforming use was located at the time such use became nonconforming. No nonconforming use or accessory use thereto, shall encroach upon or extend to another parcel of land added to the original parcel after the date the use became nonconforming.
(b) 
Permission to enlarge or expand the existing nonconforming use, as described in this section, shall not be construed to permit a new use or uses to be established on the property.
(c) 
A nonconforming use within an existing structure may be expanded to other areas within the structure not already dedicated to the nonconforming use, provided the expansion of such nonconforming use does not exceed 50% of the area of the structure already dedicated to the use.
(d) 
A structure containing a nonconforming use may be enlarged to accommodate the expansion of a nonconforming use, provided the enlargement does not exceed 50% of that area of the structure already dedicated to the nonconforming use.
(e) 
A nonconforming use of land alone, may be expanded through existing property provided the expansion does not exceed 50% of the area of the land already dedicated to the nonconforming use. Along with their application for a special exception under this section, the applicant for expansion must submit a survey, prepared by a registered engineer or land surveyor, containing metes and bounds descriptions of the following areas:
[1] 
The perimeter of the property;
[2] 
The area of the property accommodating the nonconforming use at the time of application; and
[3] 
The area of the property over which the nonconforming use is to be expanded.
(f) 
The property shall be marked with temporary markers locating the areas referenced in this paragraph on the ground from the time of application through the date the Zoning Hearing Board acts on the application. In the event the Zoning Hearing Board approves such application, the property shall be marked with permanent markers locating the areas referenced in this paragraph within 30 days of the date of the Board's decision.
(g) 
Any proposed enlargement or expansion of a nonconforming use of land or structure shall conform to the dimensional standards (i.e., setback, area, coverage, height, etc.) as well as any and all other requirements of the district in which the nonconforming use is located.
(3) 
Change of nonconforming use. A nonconforming use or structure may be changed-to another nonconforming use or structure only if the Zoning Hearing Board determines that the change is equally appropriate or more appropriate to the character of the district and neighborhood in which the property is located. In making such determination the Board shall take into consideration the following factors, where applicable:
(a) 
Number of employees.
(b) 
Amount of employee and visitor parking required.
(c) 
Number of commercial vehicles serving the proposed use and the number of such vehicles to be parked at the premises or vicinity of the use.
(d) 
Traffic volumes and congestion to be generated.
(e) 
Adverse environmental effects generated by the proposed use.
(f) 
The extent to which the property owner will take measures to reasonably decrease the impact of the use upon adjacent properties.
(g) 
The size and location of the property on which the use is located.
(h) 
The impact of the proposed use on abutting properties.
(i) 
The hierarchy of uses authorized as permitted, conditional or special exception uses within the Township under this chapter, as may be required under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, beginning with the C Conservation District and ending with the M-1 Manufacturing District.
(j) 
Such other criteria as the Zoning Hearing Board may deem relevant.
(4) 
Restoration, relocation or reconstruction. If an existing nonconforming use or structure is destroyed, then a permit for its reconstruction may be obtained if such permit application is filed within 90 days of the initial destruction, and reconstruction is completed within 18 months after obtaining said permit. An existing nonconforming use or structure which is damaged but not destroyed can be restored without regard to when the initial damage occurred or when the restoration is completed, so long as the building permit applicant otherwise qualifies for a building permit. Any restoration under this paragraph shall not cause the change or expansion of the nonconforming use. Also, a nonconforming use or structure, when razed or removed from the premises, shall not be relocated on the premises except in conformity with the regulations of the district in which it is then located.
C. 
Effect of change and abandonment of a nonconforming use.
(1) 
No nonconforming use or structure may be reestablished after it has been discontinued for a period of 12 months or more. Failure to use the property for the nonconforming use for a period of 12 months or more shall be evidence of the intention to abandon the nonconforming use.
(2) 
A preexisting nonconforming use of property, when discontinued for a period in excess of 12 months, shall not be considered as a nonconforming use for purposes of this section. However, such discontinued use of the property may be taken into consideration by the Zoning Hearing Board in considering a request for use or dimensional variances for any new use of the property.
(3) 
The change from one nonconforming use to another nonconforming use under this chapter shall operate to extinguish, discontinue and end the prior nonconforming use.
(4) 
Where multiple nonconforming uses lawfully exist on a property at the date of this chapter's enactment, the discontinuance of any of such uses for a period of 12 months shall operate to extinguish, discontinue and such nonconforming use.
D. 
Nonconforming uses in floodplains. When any nonconforming use or structure located in a floodplain is expanded, reconstructed or otherwise modified under this section, and the cost of same is equal to 50% or less of its market value, any expanded, reconstructed or modified area shall be flood-proofed and elevated to the greatest extent practicable.
(1) 
In the event any nonconforming use or structure located in a floodplain shall be expanded, reconstructed or otherwise modified under this section, and the cost of same is equal to or exceeds 50% of its market value, the entire structure shall be modified to fully comply with the flood-proofing standards of this chapter.
(2) 
No nonconforming structure located in a floodway district shall be expanded or enlarged unless the effect of the proposed expansion or enlargement on flood heights is fully offset by constructing such improvements consistent with the regulations for the floodway district.
E. 
Towers and antennas.
(1) 
The construction of or additions to towers and regulated under this chapter shall not be considered by the Zoning Hearing Board as an expansion of a nonconforming use of the property or structure.
(2) 
Preexisting towers. Preexisting towers shall be allowed to continue their usage as they presently exist. Routine maintenance (including replacement with a new tower of like construction and height) shall be permitted on such preexisting towers. New construction other than routine maintenance on a preexisting tower shall comply with the requirements of Sections of this chapter and any other applicable state, local or federal regulations.
(3) 
Rebuilding damaged or destroyed nonconforming towers or antennas. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, bona fide nonconforming towers or antennas that are damaged or destroyed may be rebuilt without having to first obtain administrative approval or a special use permit if the type, height and location of the tower on site shall be of the same type and intensity as the original facility approval. Building permits to rebuild the facility shall comply with the then applicable building codes and shall be obtained within 180 days from the date the facility is damaged or destroyed. If no permit is obtained, or if said permit expires, the tower or antenna shall be deemed abandoned as set forth above.