A variance is a special permission granting relief from a zoning requirement. A variance may only be granted when, as determined by the Zoning Board of Appeals or City Council, the request has fulfilled all variance criteria in the Zoning Ordinance.
What is the Difference Between a Major and a Minor Variance?
A minor variance is recognized as having potential impact on only theimmediate neighborhood and adjoing properties, whereas a major variance is recognized as having potential impact on the area larger than the immediate neighborhood or one that may affect enforcement of the Zoning Ordinance elsewhere in the City.
A minor variance is one of the ten requests below:
- To permit a variance of the depth of a required front or rear yard or the width of a required side yard except that the variance shall not operate to reduce the required yards by greater than 25% of the requirements.
- To permit the creation of a new lot with less lot area than required except that the variance shall not operate to reduce the required lot area by greater than 10%.
- To permit the creation of a new lot with less lot width than required except that the variance shall not operate to reduce the required lot width by greater than 15%.
- To permit a 5% increase in the required floor area ratio and a 5% decrease in the required open space ratio.
- To permit up to a 25% decrease in the number of parking spaces required.
- To permit the Zoning Administrator to approve a building permit or Certificate of Occupancy allowing the substitution of one nonconforming use for another in accordance with Section X-3.
- To permit accessory off-street parking in a location other than the zoning lot of the principal use or within 600 feet, as provided in Section VIII-4.L and Section V-3.G.
- To permit the postponement of the termination of a nonconforming use of land, as required by Section X-6, for a period not to exceed five years.
- To allow a sign to exceed the maximum height or area, as provided in Article IX by no more than 15% of the specified requirement, in keeping with the legislative intent specified in Section IX-1.
- To grant a variance from the provisions of Section X-9.B, so as to permit change, alteration, re-establishment, or more than routine maintenance of a nonconforming outdoor advertising sign structure where such change, alteration, re-establishment, or maintenance shall not increase the size of the outdoor advertising sign structure, make it radiate or reflect more light, or otherwise make it visually more objectionable. No such variance granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals shall in any way postpone the time for removal of the nonconforming outdoor advertising sign structure as provided in Section X-9.C, beyond the time when the original outdoor advertising sign structure which was permitted to be changed, altered, re-established or maintained hereunder would have been required to be removed.
All other requests are major variances. A major variance request is heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals, then passed to the City Council with a recommendation. The City Council grants or denies the major variance.
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