Variances

What is a Variance?
A variance is an approved deviation to any requirement of the Zoning Ordinance which can be expressed in terms of numbers (dimensional).  The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) may not authorize a use variance.  A variance which is legally utilized and maintained runs with the property and any subsequent owners who legally continue the variance under its original or amended terms.

When is a variance needed?
If an element of a proposed development activity does not comply with a requirement of the Zoning which can be expressed in terms of numbers (dimensional), direction is given by Staff to either modify the element of the proposed development activity or seek a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

What factors are considered by the Zoning Boards of Appeals (ZBA) in the granting of a variance?

In consideration of all variances (non-signage), the ZBA shall review each case individually as to its compliance with each of the following standards and may only approve variance requests which comply with all of the following:

(1) The standard for which the variance is being granted would unreasonably prevent the owner from using property for a permitted purpose or would render conformity unnecessarily burdensome; and
(2) The variance would do substantial justice to the applicant as well as to other property owners in the zoning district and a lesser relaxation of the standard would not provide substantial relief and be more consistent with justice to others; and
(3) The problem is due to circumstances unique to the property and not to general conditions in the area; and
(4) The problem that resulted in the need for the variance was not created by the applicant or previous owners of the property; and
(5) Issuance of the variance would still ensure that the spirit of the ordinance is observed, public safety secured and substantial justice done.

Sign variances may be granted for any one of the following conditions:

(1) The applicant has demonstrated a variance is needed due to a practical difficulty on the site, such as varied topography, horizontal or vertical road curvature, or presence of structures or desired trees that limits visibility of a sign on the premises compared to similar sites with conforming signs in the same zoning district; or
(2) A variance is warranted due to the relatively large size of the site, frontage or building in comparison to other establishments in the same zoning district; or
(3) A variance would significantly improve the conformity of an existing sign; or
(4) The variance would permit a sign with historic significance to be retained.

To grant a sign variance all of the following standards must also be met:

(1) The inability to conform with the regulations is due to a practical difficulty or unique condition that includes more than mere inconvenience or mere inability to attain a supposed higher financial return; and
(2) That the alleged practical difficulties or unique condition, or both, are exceptional and peculiar to the property of the person requesting the variance, and result from conditions which do not exist generally throughout the City; and
(3) That allowing the variance will result in substantial justice being done, considering the public benefits intended to be secured by the regulations, the individual practical difficulties that will be suffered by a failure to grant a variance, and the rights of others whose property would be affected by the allowance of the variance, and will not be contrary to the public purpose and general intent of these regulations; and
(4) The variance granted is the minimum necessary to allow the applicant to enjoy the same rights as other establishments in the same zoning district, have a reasonable outlet for free speech and meet the intent of the sign regulations; and
(5) The variance will not adversely affect the health, safety and welfare of the public.

Variance Process:
  • Application for Zoning Board of Appeals submittal: A completed application, plot plan and required fee shall be submitted to the City Planning and Development Department.   After receipt of the completed application, plot plan and the required fee, your request will be placed on the next possible Zoning Board of Appeals meeting agenda for the purpose of a public hearing, with all legal notifications being met, for consideration by the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Zoning Board of Appeals meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m.
  • Public Hearing: The Zoning Board of Appeals will conduct the public hearing as scheduled. The applicant or representative is expected to be present to address any questions.  The public is given an opportunity to voice their opinions on the requested variance(s).  The Zoning Board of Appeals will take action by approving, denying, or tabling the request.
Application for Zoning Board of Appeals