When the County denies issuance of a permit on the grounds that the application does not conform to the zoning regulations contained in Chapter 405 of the Unified Development Ordinance, the applicant may appeal specific zoning requirements if compliance would cause exceptional hardship for use of the property. Appeals must be made within 45 days of the denial. Appeals are heard and decided upon by the Board of Zoning Adjustment, a quasi-judicial body which will hold a formal public hearing after notifying the adjoining property owners. In approving any variance, the Board may impose conditions to reduce negative impacts caused for the use of nearby properties.
Additionally, any decision of the Director of the Division of Planning and Zoning may be appealed by an affected property owner, tenant, or public official who believe that the Director’s decision has caused a permit to have been incorrectly issued or denied. Typically, this would be on the grounds that the zoning regulations have been misinterpreted.
Zoning Variance Criteria
By County ordinance, the Board may only grant the requested variance if the property owner proves that:
- The variance is requested due to unique circumstances inherent to the specific piece of property and not to personal considerations of the property owner; and
- The variance is not needed as the result of an affirmative act of the property owner that could have been avoided through a different course of action; and
- The variance would not merely grant a special benefit to the property beyond what is enjoyed by other properties regulated by the same set of zoning regulations; and
- The application of such non-use regulation would result in practical difficulties to the property owner. In determining whether "practical difficulties" exist, relevant factors to consider include whether, or to what degree, the owner can pursue the permitted use without a variance; the financial hardship to the property owner from the strict application of the regulation; how substantial the variance request is in relation to the regulation; whether the difficulty can be obviated by some method other than a variance; and whether such relief can be granted without substantial detriment to the public good and without substantially impairing the intent, purpose and integrity of the zoning regulations as embodied in the Unified Development Ordinance and maps.
Zoning Variance Process
The steps for approval of a variance to the zoning regulations include:
- Applicant consults with Planning & Zoning Division staff. (Strongly recommended)
- Complete application submitted about a month before the public hearing.
- County staff processes application. This includes notifying the owners of adjoining properties, posting a sign on the property, and notifying pertinent public agencies.
- Board of Zoning Adjustment conducts public hearing and votes to approve, approve with conditions, or deny the application. The Commission meets the first Thursday of each month.
How Do I Apply?
Complete variance applications must include:
- Payment of the fee specified in Section 425.020.C of the Unified Development Ordinance;
- A statement of hardship showing that the hardship is based on factors inherent to the land or property;
- A plot plan showing property boundaries and roads, existing and proposed buildings, proposed setbacks of structures, and any other pertinent features such as topography and flood zones; and
- A legal description of the property.