Variance

A Variance is “a relaxation of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance where such relaxation will not be contrary to the public interest and where, owing to conditions peculiar to the property and not the result of the action of the applicant, a literal enforcement of the ordinance would result in unnecessary and undue hardship.” Variance applications and their process are detailed in Section 14-12 of the Zoning Ordinance. Variance applications can be granted either by the Zoning Administrator (as an Administrative Variance) or by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). A Variance application will not be approved unless it meet the criteria specified in Section 14-12 of the Zoning Ordinance (for Administrative Variances) or Section 14-14 of the Zoning Ordinance (for Variances granted by the BZA).

Administrative Variance

A Variance Application (with the accompanying $275 fee) to the building setback requirement to be reviewed administratively can be submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning for review by the Zoning Administrator. Administrative Variances can be granted if the Zoning Administrator finds the following facts:

  • Strict application of the ordinance would produce undue hardship
  • Such hardship is not shared by other properties in the same zoning district and same vicinity
  • The variance will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property and will not change the character of the zoning district

Upon receipt of an application, the Zoning Administrator will notify all adjoining property owners of the application. Adjacent property owners have 21 days from the date of the notice to respond to the Zoning Administrator regarding the variance application. If the Zoning Administrator receives an objection from an adjoining property owner with 21 days of notification or is unable to make all three of the required findings of fact, the application shall be transmitted to the Board of Zoning Appeals for review.

Board of Zoning Appeals Variance

A Variance Application (with the accompanying $275 fee) can be submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning for review by staff and the Board of Zoning Appeals. Staff from the County and any other applicable agencies will review the application and, following this review, Planning and Zoning staff will prepare a Staff Report to be presented to the BZA at a Public Hearing. Similarly, the BZA will also hold a Public Hearing on Administrative Variance Applications forwarded by the Zoning Administrator.

Within 60 days after receipt of an application, a Public Hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals will be scheduled. During this Public Hearing, staff will present the application to the BZA with their summarized analysis and recommendation, the applicant can speak before the BZA, and the public has the opportunity to comment on the application. At this Public Hearing or a subsequent meeting (but within 30 days following the Public Hearing), the BZA will decide to approve or deny the application.

Variances can be granted only if the Board of Zoning Appeals finds the following facts:

  • Strict application of the ordinance would produce undue hardship
  • Such hardship is not shared generally by other properties in the same zoning district and the same vicinity
  • Authorization of such variance will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property and that the character of the district will not be changed by the granting of the variance
  • The condition or situation of the property concerned is not of so general or recurring a nature as to make reasonably practicable the formulation of a general regulation to be adopted as an amendment to the ordinance

In addition to authorizing a Variance to the Zoning Ordinance, the Board of Zoning Appeals may impose additional conditions regarding the location, character, and other features of the proposed structure or use as it may deem necessary.

All amendments to an approved Variance application are considered a new Variance application and, therefore, are reviewed and decided upon by the Zoning Administrator (for Administrative Variances) or Board of Zoning Appeals (for all other Variances or Administrative Variances receiving objections from adjacent property owners) following a Public Hearing (for Variance requests before the BZA).

Forms for the Variance Application can be found on the department’s Forms and Policies page.