Posted by: Patricia Salkin | October 18, 2014

OH Appeals Court Finds Storing Commercial Vehicles on Residentially Zoned Property was Not a Valid Nonconforming Use

The zoning inspector for Trumbull Township cited Appellant Gary Tepley for violating the Trumbull Township zoning code because Tepley was storing tractor-trailer trucks that were not in a completely enclosed building on his property. According to Tepley, the 1981 Trumbull Township Zoning Code, the applicable zoning code to Tepley’s storage of vehicles in 1982, did not prohibit the parking of tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles on the property. Tepley appealed the citation claiming that his storage of the vehicles was a prior nonconforming use because he continuously stored various commercial trucks on his property in the open since 1982. In this administrative appeal, Tepley argued that the BZA’s decision was not supported by the preponderance of substantial, reliable, and probative evidence.

Teplay’s argument was that the trial court did not correctly apply the standard of review to the BZA decision, and that the evidence did not support a finding that Tepley did not establish a prior nonconforming use. However, a prior non-conforming use must meet two requirements: first, the use must have been in existence prior to the enactment of the prohibitory land use; second, the land use in question must have been lawful at the time it commenced. Tepley’s argument was based on the premise that because the 1981 Trumbull Township zoning code did not affirmatively prohibit the storage of vehicles on the Property, it was lawful for him to store his commercial vehicles there in 1982. Despite this, the storing of commercial vehicles on residentially zoned property is not an exempt use, and Tepley never obtained a zoning certificate for his storage of commercial vehicles. Because, his use was not lawful at the time he started storing his vehicles on his property, there was no valid non-conforming use established.  The judgment of the trial court was therefore confirmed.

Tepley v Trumbull Township Board of Zoning Appeals, 2014 WL 5140356 (OH App. 10/14/2014)

The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/11/2014/2014-ohio-4541.pdf


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