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Vested Rights Versus Nonconformity

April 12, 2011

Generally speaking, the doctrine of vested rights addresses a property owner’s right to complete a project under one set of requirements without fear that those requirements will be altered to his or her detriment at the eleventh hour.

Once the project is complete and a use is operational, changes to applicable zoning regulations can render the use or structure noncompliant.  The result is a nonconforming use or structure.  The right to continue to operate that nonconformity is typically governed by the express language of the applicable local ordinance.  The NCCOA’s recent decision in APAC-Atlantic, Inc. v. City of Salisbury, COA10-591, analyzes this nonconformity issue.

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