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Nonconforming Uses including Signs

verification of a Nonconforming Use, Lot, or Structure

To apply for verification of a nonconforming use, lot, or structure, submit the following to the Zoning Administration Division of the Planning Office:

  1. Completed Application for Verification of Nonconforming Use, Lot, and Structure.
  2. Processing fee payable in cash, check, money order or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or Discover) in accordance with the current Zoning Fee Schedule.
  3. Supporting documents as noted on the application.

Nonconforming Signs

To apply for verification of a nonconforming sign, submit the following to the Zoning Administration Division of the Planning Office:

  1. Completed Application for Verification of Nonconforming Sign.
  2. Processing fee payable in cash, check, money order or credit card (Visa, MasterCard or Discover) in accordance with the current Zoning Fee Schedule.
  3. Supporting documents as noted on the application.
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county code Section 32-601.10. "Nonconforming Use", "Lot", "Structure", and "Sign" Defined

What is a nonconforming use? Any use that was lawful on the date of enactment of the Prince William County Zoning Ordinance, or amendment thereto, which has been continued although otherwise rendered unlawful by such enactment or amendment. Any use that was unlawful on the date of enactment of the Zoning Ordinance, or amendment thereto shall remain unlawful and shall not be a "nonconforming use."
 
What is a nonconforming lot? Any lot that was lawful on the date of enactment of the Prince William County Zoning Ordinance, or amendment thereto, which has been continued in existence although otherwise rendered unlawful by such enactment or amendment thereto. Any lot that was unlawful on the date of enactment of the Zoning Ordinance, or amendment thereto shall remain unlawful and shall not be a "nonconforming lot." A lot is nonconforming if one or more of the following standards are not met as a result of enactment or amendment of this chapter: lot area and/or lot width/frontage.
 
What is a nonconforming structure? Any structure, except signs, that was lawful on the date of enactment of the Prince William County Zoning Ordinance, or amendment thereto, which has continued in existence although otherwise rendered unlawful by such enactment or amendment thereto. Any structure that was unlawful on the date of enactment of the Zoning Ordinance, or amendment thereto shall remain unlawful and shall not be a "nonconforming structure." A structure is nonconforming if one or more of the following standards are not met as a result of enactment or amendment of this chapter:
  • Setbacks, Yards, Buffers
  • Chesapeake Bay
  • Storm water management
  • Open space
  • Lot coverage
  • Tree canopy
  • Height
  • Floor Area Ratio
  • Provisional Use Permit (PUP)/Special Use Permit (SUP)
What is a nonconforming sign? Any sign that was lawful on the date of enactment of the Prince William County Zoning Ordinance, or amendment thereto, which has continued in existence although otherwise rendered unlawful by such enactment or amendment thereto. Any sign that was unlawful on the date of enactment of the Zoning Ordinance or amendment thereto shall remain unlawful and shall not be a "nonconforming sign". A sign is nonconforming if one or more of the following standards are not met as a result of enactment or amendment of the zoning ordinance: sign type, sign size, number of signs permitted per lot, maximum height for freestanding signs, minimum setback for freestanding signs, and district where signs are permitted.
 

Recertification of a nonconforming use, or sign:

After verification of the lawful status of a nonconforming use, lot, or sign, the owner/operator shall file a report with the Zoning Administrator on the Nonconforming Use and Sign Re-Verification Application form showing that the nonconforming use or sign has not ceased for a two (2) year period, or been abandoned, and that the use is being operated in accordance with the decision rendered as part of the nonconforming use verification. To apply for recertification of the nonconforming use or sign, submit a completed Application for Recertification of Continued Nonconforming Use or an Application for Recertification of Continued Nonconforming Sign and supporting documentation as noted on the document submission check list. 
 
Questions or comments? Contact the Zoning Administration Division of the Planning Office at zoning@pwcgov.org or 703-792-7615

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