8.3 Non-Conforming Uses, Structures & Lots

8.3.A Non-Conforming Uses

  • May Be Continued - Notwithstanding any other provision of these Regulations, a pre-existing non-conforming use may be continued, including through change of title or possession or right of possession of property, except as otherwise specified in this Section.
  • Alteration Or Enlargement - A non-conforming use shall not be extended or enlarged and no structure containing a non-conforming use shall be structurally altered except:
    • To make it a conforming structure;
    • To comply with requirements of health and safety laws or ordinances; and/or
    • Subject to Special Permit approval and Site Plan approval by the Commission, to result in a situation with a lesser impact upon the surrounding area than the existing use.
  • Relocation - A pre-existing non-conforming use may, subject to Special Permit approval and Site Plan approval by the Commission, be moved or relocated provided that such moving or relocation will:
    • Reduce or eliminate the non-conformity; or
    • Result, in the opinion of the Commission, in a situation with a lesser impact upon the surrounding area than the existing use.
  • Change Of Use - The Commission may, subject to Special Permit approval and Site Plan approval, allow a change from a pre-existing non-conforming use to another non-conforming use provided that:
    • The proposed use is similar in intensity to the existing use or lower in intensity than the existing use; and
    • The proposed use will have a lesser impact upon the surrounding area than the existing use.
  • Restoration - When a building, whether conforming or non-conforming, in which there is a non-conforming use is damaged or destroyed by fire, collapse, explosion, act of God or act of the public enemy, it may be restored only to its previous floor area, cubical content and exterior appearance and the non-conforming use continued to the same extent as said use existing before such destruction.
  • Reversion Or Abandonment-
    • Whenever a non-conforming use has been abandoned, changed to a conforming use, or changed to a more conforming use, it shall not thereafter be changed back to the previous non-conforming use or to a less conforming use.
    • For the purposes of this provision, abandonment shall mean the voluntary and intentional discontinuance of a use such as:
      • A change to a conforming use or to a more conforming use; or
      • Any other act indicating an intent to abandon.

8.3.B Non-Conforming Structures

  • May Be Continued - Notwithstanding any other provision of these Regulations, a pre-existing non-conforming structure may remain, including through change of title or possession or right of possession of property, except as otherwise specified in this Section.
  • Limitation - This Section shall not permit the non-conforming structure to violate any other provisions of these Regulations.
  • Alteration Or Enlargement - A non-conforming structure shall not be extended, enlarged, or altered except:
    • To make it a conforming structure;
    • To comply with requirements of health and safety laws or ordinances;
    • Subject to Site Plan approval by the Commission, changes to the exterior appearance of the non-conforming structure may be permitted when the Commission determines that such change is more compatible with the surrounding neighborhood; and/or
    • Subject to Special Permit approval and Site Plan approval by the Commission, to result in a situation with a lesser impact upon the surrounding area than the existing structure.
  • Relocation - A pre-existing non-conforming structure may, subject to Special Permit approval and Site Plan approval by the Commission, be moved or relocated provided that such moving or relocation will:
    • Reduce or eliminate the non-conformity; or
    • Result, in the opinion of the Commission, in a situation with a lesser impact upon the surrounding area than the existing structure.
  • Restoration - When a non-conforming building is damaged or destroyed by fire, collapse, explosion, act of God or act of the public enemy, it may be restored only to its previous floor area, cubical content and exterior appearance as existing before such destruction.
  • Flood Preparation - When a non-conforming building is located within a FEMA flood zone and is being elevated to comply with FEMA standards, it may be so elevated provided doing so does not increase its non-conformity as to yard setbacks or building coverage.
  • Reversion Or Abandonment-
    • Whenever a non-conforming structure has been abandoned, changed to a conforming structure, or changed to a more conforming structure, it shall not thereafter be changed back to the previous non-conforming structure or to a less conforming structure.
    • For the purposes of this provision, abandonment shall mean the voluntary and intentional discontinuance of a structure such as:
      • A change to a conforming structure or to a more conforming structure; or
      • Any other act indicating an intent to abandon.

8.3.C Non-Conforming Lots

1. May Be Continued - Notwithstanding any other provision of these Regulations, a pre-existing non-conforming lot may remain, including through change of title or possession or right of possession of property, except as otherwise specified in this Section.

2. Merger Of Adjoining Lots 

  • If two or more adjoining lots of record, one or both of which fail to meet the requirements of these Regulations with regard to lot area, lot width, yard setback requirements and/or coverage, have continuous frontage and are in a single ownership at the effective date of these Regulations, and if such lots are taken together would form one or more lots, each more nearly meeting the requirements of these Regulations with regard to lot area, lot width, yard setback requirements, and/or coverage, such lot or lots shall no longer be considered legally existing on the effective date of these Regulations and must be used in compliance with the zoning requirements irrespective of subsequent changes in ownership.
  • Provided however, a lot of record, existing and recorded as a separate lot in the land records of the Town of Groton prior to February 18, 2005, even though the said lot was neither part of an approved subdivision plan nor a lot which has a valid building permit, shall be exempt from the above referenced provisions. The burden of proof to show compliance with this exemption shall be upon the lot owner.