Zoning Variance

Zoning Variance

A zoning variance is an exception to the zoning ordinance that is granted by local authorities on a case-by-case basis. Since getting a zoning variance is based on some exceptions, before you apply, you must be aware of the codes and regulations.

The Definition of Zoning Variance

A zoning variance is a term that defines the exception to a zoning ordinance. There are some conditions that require a zoning variance such as required yard setbacks, building height, maximum floor area etc. Since it´s a file that is submitted in exceptional situations, it may not be approved. Thus, after the files are prepared meticulously and submitted to the local Zoning Department, the application gets added to the following Zoning Board meeting agenda to be presented to the general public. In this way, protecting or increasing the property values of homes by zoning variance is possible.

The Situations that Require a Zoning Variance

There are numerous situations where a zoning variance is required. Some of them are listed in this article. Some of them can be existing non-conforming conditions such as existing building setbacks. Changing the use of a property, building a structure on a vacant lot with high density, changing the land parcel to a different zoning classification are some of the most common situations for submitting a zoning variance. Apart from these examples, an addition or extension to an existing building is also a common reason for this application.

Because of the numerous situations, there are two types of zoning variance , which are (1) area variance, and (2) use variance. An area variance is more common than use variance and it means changing a physical aspect of a property. On the other hand, use variance defines the permission to change the way the property is being used such as residential, commercial, industrial etc.

The Necessary Steps to Get a Zoning Variance

To get a zoning variance, there are some steps you need to take. However, taking all the necessary steps and submitting the file does not guarantee the variance approval. It might not be given in order to save the property values of homes and neighborhoods by the local government.

The first step to get a zoning variance is to hire a professional architect. The architect prepares a set of zoning drawings to be submitted to the Zoning Department. If the property is larger than a single-family home, hiring an attorney is required as well.  A zoning variance application must be submitted. To fill it out, paying a fee is required. In this application, you need to prove why this area or use change is a necessity. If the existing conditions cause unnecessary hardship, and limitation of use, the zoning variance is likely approved. In addition, you should prove that this change does not harm any public interest.

After submitting the application form, a Zoning Board meeting date is announced. The application and the hardship is presented to the local Zoning Board during this meeting and it is open to the general public. The applicant must send a notice of the Board meeting to the nearby neighbors generally 10 days in advance, in case they would like to attend and make any comments.
Each municipality has its own zoning ordinances. So, before you submit an application, you need to be aware of the regulations and the act based on this.

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