What is a variance, and what is the approval process?

A variance is an exception to requirements of the Zoning Code for development of property, such as building setbacks. A variance may be justified when a regulation restricts the use of property because of some unique feature of the property such as its shape or topography. A variance requires approval by the Board of Zoning Adjustment at a public hearing.

In order to approve a variance, specific findings must be made, as follows:

  1.  There are special circumstances or conditions applicable to the property or buildings in question which do not exist for other property or buildings in the same zone and immediate vicinity; and,
  2. The special circumstances or conditions are such that the strict application of the provisions of the Zoning Code would deprive the applicant of the practical use of the property or buildings; and,
  3. Granting the variance will be consistent with the intent and purpose of the Zoning Code and will not be detrimental to the neighborhood or public welfare.

More information regarding the variance process, see Variance Brochure (PDF) or Variance Submittal Requirements (PDF).

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1. What is the General Plan?
2. What is zoning and where can I find zoning information about my property?
3. I know what zone my property is in. What is allowed in that zone?
4. What is a legal-nonconforming condition?
5. What is a variance, and what is the approval process?
6. What is a Planned Development (P-D) Zone?
7. What is a setback? How far must my house or fence be set back from the property line?
8. How do I find the location of my property line?
9. How can I make an adjustment of the lot line between my parcel and my neighbor’s parcel?
10. I am interested in dividing my property into several parcels; is that possible?
11. What’s the process to build a shed or a gazebo in my backyard?
12. Can I build an accessory dwelling unit or in-law quarters on my property?
13. Can I convert my garage into another bedroom, office or recreation room?
14. What kind of approval do I need for adding a second story?
15. I want to start a home business. Where do I begin?
16. What are the regulations for installing a sign?
17. Where can I find application forms and submittal requirements for my planning application?