Gutted Building Loses Grandfathered Status

A recent N.J. Appellate Division case, Motley v. Borough of Seaside Park,  could create problems for property owners looking to rebuild post-Sandy. The case involved a home that was gutted to perform repairs. The court found that the house was therefore totally destroyed and lost its grandfathered nonconforming use under local zoning laws.  The court strictly interpreted a law that allows a nonconforming use to be restored or repaired only if it is partially destroyed. The law provides that total destruction terminates the nonconforming use. This case could pose real problems for property owners undertaking renovations due to Storm Sandy.