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Nonconforming Uses

Sometimes, as part of rezoning studies, some uses in the study area become nonconforming. Below is a list of frequently asked questions surrounding nonconforming uses.

What is a Nonconforming Use?

A use becomes nonconforming when a new zoning district is applied to a property that does not allow the use that was legally established under the previous zoning district.

Example: A commercially zoned property with a retail store has its zoning change from C1 to R5. The C1 district allows retail uses, while R5 does not. The retail use would become nonconforming with this change.

Can I still use my property if it is Nonconforming?

Yes. Nonconforming uses can continue to operate as usual as long as they are not abandoned for a period of more than 12 months. If the use is abandoned for more than 12 months, the uses on the property must come into conformance with the zoning district on the property.

Can I change the use of my property if it is Nonconforming?

Yes. You are allowed by right to change a nonconforming use to any of the uses permitted in the zoning district on your property. The City Planning Commission may allow a change from one nonconforming use to a different nonconforming use if it is compatible with the surrounding area and it has impacts on surrounding properties that are of similar or lower intensity than the existing nonconforming use. In general, the Planning Commission considers the following in making its decision: hours of operation, signage, traffic, parking, the nature of the business, number of employees, building size, aesthetics, lighting, the generation of noise, heat, glare, and vibration. Nonconforming uses are generally not allowed to expand. If you would like to change your nonconforming use to another nonconforming use, you must work with a City Planner and apply for your request to be heard at a public hearing.

What if my property is damaged, can I rebuild my Nonconforming Use?

State law allows property owners to rebuild nonconforming uses in the event of a loss caused by natural forces. A building permit must be built within 6 months of the loss to qualify.

Can I get a loan to purchase a Nonconforming Use?

Yes. However, some lenders ask that you obtain written evidence that the property in question is a legally nonconforming use. The zoning staff at the City of Minneapolis provides this service by way of a Zoning and Floodplain Letter Request Form.

Last updated Nov 3, 2011