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The scope of a Variance application is a request to grant relief from certain zoning requirements for property in situations based on the following three criteria:

  1. Where, by reason of exceptional narrowness, shallowness, or shape of a specific piece of property … or by reason of exceptional topographic conditions or other extraordinary and exceptional situation or condition, such piece of property is not able to accommodate development as required under this Ordinance;

  2. The strict application of any provision enacted under this Ordinance would result in peculiar and exceptional practical difficulties to or exceptional hardship upon the owner of such property; and

  3. Such relief may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good and without substantially impairing the purpose and intent of the zoning map and this Ordinance.

In accordance with State law, all three criteria must be met to grant a variance.  Variances are typically considered for dimensional requirements, such as encroachments into setbacks.  Variances cannot be considered for use regulations.  They also do not include financial burdens that an applicant may perceive to be incurred if asked to fully comply with the City’s regulations.

Variances are reviewed and approved by the BZA.

Step 1: Pre-Application Meeting with staff

The pre-application meeting must take place before an application can be accepted.  To set up a meeting, contact a Planner in the Department of Planning and Sustainability.

Step 2: Variance Application Submittal

The application must be submitted according to the Submittal Schedule through IDT.  For the list of submittal requirements, see the Variance Checklist.

At least 15 days prior to the BZA meeting, the applicant mails notification letters to surrounding property owners using addresses that are provided by staff.  The applicant then submits a copy of the Public Notice Letter and a notarized Public Notice Affidavit.

Step 3: Staff Review

The staff reviews the application, prepares a staff report, and makes a recommendation to the BZA. When the staff report is complete, it is posted here.

Step 4: BZA Final Action

The BZA reviews the application and takes final action on the application.  Following the vote, the staff provides a form for the applicant and the chair to sign, which documents the action taken at the meeting.

Step 5: Subsequent Applications (If Applicable)

When the variance is granted, then the applicant may proceed with a building permit or site plan application, as applicable.