PA 17-39—sSB 944

Planning and Development Committee

AN ACT CLARIFYING THE CONTINUATION OF NONCONFORMING USES, BUILDINGS OR STRUCTURES

SUMMARY: This act clarifies existing law's protections for nonconforming uses, buildings, and structures. It specifies that municipal zoning regulations cannot terminate or deem abandoned a nonconforming use, building, or structure unless the property owner voluntarily discontinues such use, building, or structure with the intent not to reestablish it. The act also specifies that demolishing or deconstructing a nonconforming use, building, or structure is not, by itself, evidence of an owner's intent to abandon the use, building, or structure.

A nonconforming use is a property use that legally exists when a zoning restriction prohibiting or limiting it is adopted (e.g., a business operating in an area later zoned for single family housing). Likewise, nonconforming buildings or structures are those that do not comply with current zoning regulations concerning location (e.g., setbacks) but (1) were legal when built or (2) have been deemed protected nonconforming structures or buildings by passage of time (CGS 8-2 & 8-13a).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017

BACKGROUND

Under existing law, municipalities can prohibit property owners from reestablishing a previously abandoned nonconforming use, structure, or building. But passage of time alone does not constitute abandonment (CGS 8-2). The courts have held that for a nonconforming use, structure, or building to be deemed abandoned, the owner must voluntarily discontinue it with intent not to reestablish it (Caserta v. Milford Zoning Board of Appeals, 41 Conn. App. 77 (1996)).