I provided an opinion for a client's ZBA last week and the meeting is this week. I work for a private planning consulting firm and my opinion was not well-received by my client. It's for an addition to a warehouse in an industrial district.
The applicant is asking for a variance on the side yard setback. In 1999 when the building was constructed, the sideyard setback was 20 feet. But in 2002, the client updated the zoning ordiance and now the side yard setback is 25 feet. Therefore, it is now a non-conforming structure. The applicant wants to add onto the structure, using the old setback of 20 feet. Because the zoning ordinace clearly states that any additions to a non-conforming building must be to the current zoning ordinance standards, I denied the variance request. The applicant still can build their 3,000-sf addition on the site even when they follow the ordinance to the letter.
The one complication is that at the time the original site plan was approved in 1999, their plans did show a "future addition" of 600-sf that conformed to the old side yard setback. My client contact is upset with my conclusion stating that the planning commission already approved the addition back in 1999. I say "not so fast" because in 1999, a 600-sf addition was approved, not the 3,000-sf addition that is in front of us today.
I see no reason to grant the variance. I know it's only five feet in an industrial district. But the ordinance makes it very clear that any addition to a non-conforming structure must meet the requirements of the current zoning ordinance. The cleint wants me to change the opinion. But I disagree - I see no way to allow the addition. Help?