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Town of Belleville v. Parillo’s, Inc

    Brief Fact Summary. A restaurant converted to a nightclub, which was impermissible under a newly enacted zoning ordinance.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. An existing nonconforming use can only continue of if it is a continuance of substantially the same kind of use as that which the premises were devoted at the time of the passage of the zoning ordinance. Nonconforming uses may not be enlarged except where the change is so negligible or insubstantial that it does not warrant judicial or administrative interference.

    Facts. Parillo’s (Defendant) operated a restaurant and catering service. The Town of Belleville (Plaintiff) passed an ordinance, which did not allow restaurants, but since Defendant existed before the ordinance was passed, they were allowed to remain in operation. Defendant made renovations and turned their property into a nightclub. They applied for a license, were rejected, and still operated the club. Plaintiff filed charges.

    Issue. May the nonconforming use of property continue if it is not substantially the same kind of use as that to which the premises were devoted at the time of the passage of the relevant zoning ordinance?

    Held. No.
    A nonconforming use is the use of a premise that lawfully existed prior to the enactment of a zoning ordinance and which is maintained after the effective date of the ordinance, even though it does not comply with the use restrictions applicable to the area in which it is situated. The property has the right to continue, despite the restrictive zoning provisions.
    To limit nonconforming uses, the method used is either to prevent any increase or change in the nonconformity. An existing nonconforming use can only continue of if it is a continuance of substantially the same kind of use as that which the premises were devoted at the time of the passage of the zoning ordinance. Nonconforming uses may not be changed except when the change is so negligible or insubstantial that it does not warrant judicial or administrative interference.
    Converting the restaurant to a nightclub was a substantial, and therefore impermissible, change. The entire character of the business has been altered.

    Discussion. Nonconforming uses of property are inconsistent with the objective of uniform zoning. So, strict limitations are placed upon nonconforming uses.


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