Variances and Appeals

What is a Variance?
A variance is "A relaxation of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance where such variance will not be contrary to the public interest and where, owing to conditions peculiar to the property and not the result of actions of the applicant, a literal enforcement of the chapter would result in unnecessary and undue hardship." (Municipal Code, Section 18-12)

Variances are often requested for needing to build a structure at less than the required setback or exceed height requirements.

A variance request is heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals, which considers specific findings (i.e., facts and conditions) associated with the property and the request. These findings are used to see if the requests meets the following "tests" or criteria and if the request does not meet any of the criteria, the request should be denied:

  1. Unnecessary hardship is present since strict application of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance would deny the applicant all reasonable use of the property.
  2. The hardship is due to physical limitations of the property rather than the circumstances of the Applicant.
  3. The variance will not be contrary to the public interest and will observe the purpose of the ordinance and do justice.

Steps in the Variance Process
1. Applicant Submittal: The application is available in the Zoning Application link.  Applicants must submit a completed application form, including all relevant information, to the Development Services Department. The burden of proof to show the variance request meets applicable criteria falls on the Applicant. 

  • Address of the property
  • Detailed sketch, survey, or plat of the existing area
  • Proposed variance and preliminary site plan (including detailed measurements)

2. Zoning Board of Appeals Public Hearing and Meeting: Upon acceptance by the Development Services Department of the completed application, the variance request will be placed on the next available Zoning Board of Appeals agenda. The Zoning Board of Appeals holds a public hearing on a scheduled date, typically the second Tuesday of the month. The Zoning Board of Appeals considers the request based on the findings of fact and the variance criteria, and decides to approve or deny the request.

The appeals process works in a similar manner as the variance process. An appeal is filed by an applicant "where it is alleged there is an error in any order, requirement, decision, or determination made by [staff] in the enforcement of [the Zoning Ordinance] or of any ordinance" (Sec. 18-170(2).

Contact Information: For more information regarding variance and appeals requests, please contact the Associate Planner - Zoning Administrator.