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Thread: Staff-approved variances

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Friend of Flavel's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
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    South Minneapolis
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    30

    Staff-approved variances

    Hey all -
    I'm looking for examples of City codes that allow staff to review and approve minor variances. In our City, as I'm sure in many others, all variance requests must be reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission and City Council. This includes 2 foot encroachments into our standard 30-foot front setback. From a staff perspective, it's not only a pain, but it also ticks off homeowners. We're looking for a way to give staff approval to those variances that won't impact the subject property or surrounding properties. We want to write some flexibility into the code that will pass muster with the attorneys. Any ideas? Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
    Location
    West Valley, AZ
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    3,895
    We have a minor variance procedure built into the code. That is variances to the bulk requirements that are less than 20% of the requirement. The fee is lower, the turnaround is 2 weeks vs. 4 weeks. The exact same standards for a variation are applied.

    Although this is a quicker, cheaper process, it is much harder to get a variation through staff because of our strict interpretation of what is a hardship. Any denials can be sent to the ZBA for appeal. They have the final decision.

    Check out City of Peoria, IL Variations
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Feb 1998
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    Greensburg, Kansas
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    2,988
    We have a 10% allowance, and have the Board "ratify" the action: most often state statutes only mention that the Board can grant variances.

    X.10 Minor Variances
    A minor variance is a request to deviate from the dimensional or other requirements of this Ordinance by less than ten percent.
    A. A minor variance may be granted by the Zoning Administrator following the procedure and required findings as described in Provisions X.9.C through X.9.H above, but with an abbreviated public comment.
    1. A minor variance application notice shall be delivered to all adjacent property owners, describing the request and providing for comment. If all adjacent property owners agree in writing and the Zoning administrator finds that the requirements of Section X.9 are met, the variance can be granted.
    2. If there are any objections from any of the adjoining property owners, the minor variance request shall be denied, and the issue can be brought before the Board of Zoning Appeals as a normal variance.
    B. If the Zoning Administrator denies a minor variance request, the applicant may apply before the BZA for a normal variance.
    C. The Zoning Administrator shall report to the BZA on the status of all minor variance applications, for final ratification by the BZA.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Sep 2001
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    I cacn think of 2 jurisdictions that allow for limited staff approvals.

    Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Canada. Not too familiar with Nova Scotia's legislation. In NB as a development officer we were able to grant variances "in good faith" up to 1 ft in side yard and 2 ft in front yard. The number of people we told to purposely "misdimension" site plans so we could do it once the foundation was poured was a few but not that many.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  5. #5

    Registered
    May 1997
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    Williston, VT
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    1,371
    A lot of states make this impossible, so check yours. Some communties wiggle around that by creating some well-defined municipal waivers similar to what Mike G described.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Nov 2002
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    USA
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    Ours allows the Zoning Officer to offer relief not to exceed 25% of any dimensional requirement. The modification can't include the moving of any lot line.

    The zoning officer decides whether its eligle based on certain standards within 10 days. If it is, abutters are notified and the request is advertised. If no one formally objects within 30 days, the application is approved. If written objection is received within 30 days, the request is denied and the applicant needs to seek a conventional variance from the zoning board.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Dashboard's avatar
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    Dec 2002
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    The Basement
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    One way to achieve more flexibility is through the use of a Hardship P.U.D. option. It provides for site specific administrative relief by allowing reasonable use of property in limited situations where the property owner demonstrates that his land cannot be used for the purposes permitted in a particular district.

    It accomplishes some good things: it keeps the decision out of the ZBA's hands, it doesn't require variances (although the procedure is similar), it doesn't undermine the master plan like variances often do, and it can eliminate legal battles.

    Many communities in Michigan are putting Hardship P.U.D. provisions in the zoning ordinances. Check out Hamburg Township, Shiawassee County, and the City of South Haven.

  8. #8
         
    Registered
    Apr 2004
    Location
    'ville, California
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    27

    Minor Deviation

    The following is an excerpt of our City Code describing just what you are asking about, "Minor Deviations".

    10-3-11: MINOR DEVIATIONS:

    (A) When Acceptable: When it is in the public interest, the Community Development Director, or the duly appointed representative, may consider and render decisions on the following minor deviations involving slight modifications to the provisions of this Chapter:

    1. The reduction of the lot area or the minimum size of the dwelling unit requirements by not more than ten percent (10%) of that required in the zone for not more than one lot or dwelling unit in a development.

    2. The modification of the end stalls of automobile parking space turning radius not less than twenty two feet (22') and reduction in size dimension up to twenty percent (20%) of a loading berth.

    3. The modification of the height of a fence, wall and hedge regulations up to twenty percent (20%).

    4. The modification of the height requirement of uncovered patios, terraces, swimming pools, stairways, or other landings, encroaching into required yard setbacks.

    5. The modification of maximum building coverage not greater than five percent (5%) over the permitted coverage.

    6. The modification of minimum dwelling unit area not greater than five percent (5%) of the required area.

    7. The modification of rear and side yard setbacks not to exceed ten percent (10%).

    8. Front yard modifications may also be granted when the irregular shape of a lot prohibits the required front and rear yards. In such cases, the front and rear yards shall be an average setback.

    9. The modification of parcel width and/or parcel frontage by not more than ten percent (10%) of that required in the zone for not more than one lot within a parcel map.

    (B) Conditions: In granting a minor deviation, all the conditions set forth in subsection 10-3-5(B) of this Chapter shall be made by the Community Development Director, or the designee, and conditions may be imposed. A decision shall be made in writing within twenty (20) days after the filing of the application. One copy shall be mailed to the applicant.

    (C) Community Development Director Consideration Discretionary: The Community Development Director, or the duly appointed representative, may consider and determine any matter within the scope of Section 10-3-11 of this Chapter or refer such matter to the Commission for its determination.

    (D) Application and Fee: Application for a permit shall be filed with the Community Development Department on a form furnished by said Department, accompanied by a site plan and a fee established by the City Council by resolution, no part of which may be refunded. When the applicant is not the owner of the property, the written authorization of the owner shall accompany the application. The application shall not be accepted for filing by said Department unless it conforms to the filing requirements established by the Commission.

    (E) Notification of Adjacent Property Owners: The Community Development Director or an authorized representative shall contact adjacent property owners and shall advise of the applicant's request. A five (5) day period shall be provided for response from adjacent property owners.

    (F) Appeals From Determinations: If the applicant or adjacent property owner is dissatisfied with the decision, the decision may be appealed to the Commission within ten (10) days after the decision is rendered. Such appeal shall be in writing and shall be filed with the secretary of the Commission. Upon the receipt of such appeal, the secretary of the Commission will establish the date, time and place to hear such appeal. The Commission, upon receipt of the Community Development Director's action, may require said minor deviation to be presented at a public hearing before the Commission. No permits shall be issued until the Planning Commission concurs with the staff's action. The decision of the Planning Commission is appealable to the City Council within ten (10) days of the Commission's decision. (Ord. 1474, 1-8-91)

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