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Nonconforming uses or structures, in existence when a zoning ordinance is enacted, are, as a general rule, constitutionally protected and will be permitted to continue, notwithstanding the contrary provisions of the ordinance. This rule, with its emphasis upon pecuniary and economic loss, is clearly inapplicable to a purely incidental use of property for recreational or amusement purposes only.
The owners applied for a license to do business and to prevent the nonconforming use of their premises. The City of Buffalo denied the license, and the owners filed an action. The trial court held that the owners were entitled to the license upon compliance with all the requirements preliminary to the issuance of the license. The City appealed.
Were the owners entitled to the license upon compliance with all the requirements preliminary to the issuance of the license?
The Court upheld the decision of the trial court, finding that the owners were entitled to the license applied for upon compliance with all the requirements preliminary to the issuance thereof as provided in article XIII of the ordinances of the City of Buffalo. According to the Court, nonconforming uses or structures, which were in existence when a zoning ordinance was enacted, were constitutionally protected and would be permitted to continue as a general rule. Thus, the provisions of Buffalo, N.Y., Ordinances ch. LXX, § 18, which related to the termination of nonconforming uses could not be employed to deprive the owners of a license to do business.