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Thread: Variance conditions

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Variance conditions

    When we grant a Variance, is it ethical to request something of the applicant for the city that would be considered an off-setting benefit for the city in granting the Variance?

    For example, a builder comes in and requests the Front Yard Set Back to be reduced from 40 feet to 30 feet because he can build a bigger house on the lot. Can we require the Rear Yard to be increased 10 feet? How about the Rear and Side Yards to be increased 10 feet? How about requiring the garage door to be on the side instead of the front of the house, etc.?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    My opinion would be that this would be a qualified 'yes.' In your specific example, I do not think there is a justification for a variance to construct a 'larger' house. The implication in this is that a house could be built, but just not as large as the developer would like. Furthermore, if the city were able to increase the side or rear yard setbacks, I would wonder if the same, or similarly sized house might be constructed in a different configuration on the lot within the existing setbacks. The example of a side-loaded garage may be more appropriate. If the request is intended to mitigate the adverse impacts of granting a variance, I think it is a very legitimate condition of approval.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Your post is too vague.

    What is the hardship? Are you relocating the building envelope or enlarging it? Why are you doing it? Is there a condition unique to the lot that does not apply to other lots?

    Im confused by your question.

    You state that he's requesting the reduced setback to build a bigger house on the lot, yet to require an offsetting rear yard does not accomplish that, assuming the lot is a flat unobstructed plane.

    And what does ethics have to do with this? Do you have something to gain personally in this?

    Elaborate, or you wont get usefull responses.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Most of my experience with varience requests would suggest a categorical "NO" with regard to conditions, or mitigation.

    A variance, in most places must meet strict criteria, usually based in hardship.

    A variance to build a bigger house is a no, no, at least in most places I would think.

    I fan applicant meets the hardship test, then I would suggest it unreasonable to exact anything to the public benefit.

    g

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Originally posted by gkmo62u
    Most of my experience with varience requests would suggest a categorical "NO" with regard to conditions, or mitigation.

    A variance, in most places must meet strict criteria, usually based in hardship.

    A variance to build a bigger house is a no, no, at least in most places I would think.

    I fan applicant meets the hardship test, then I would suggest it unreasonable to exact anything to the public benefit.

    g
    I should clarify my earlier remarks. I agree with gkmo62u in saying that the variance should only be granted in cases of hardship meeting established criteria, and wanting a to build a larger house is in most cases not a sufficient hardship. Where a hardship does exist, though, a variance may be granted. In doing so, I think it is wholly reasonable to place limitations on that variance that are directly related to the condition for which the variance is created.

  6. #6
    Member Lichtronamo's avatar
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    The variance request cited is a huge NO NO NO:

    1. The hardship is due to the size of the lot related to setback requirements and not a natural condition limiting use of the property such as wetlands, topography, etc.

    2. The need for variance is due to building size and the property can be put to reasonable use without the variance.

    3. The variance is entitling the builder to rights not allowed other properties under the same conditions.

    4. The request is primarily economic in nature.

    If you can give an example of a justified variance, conditions intended to off-set any reasonably anticipated negative impacts related to the variance would be appropriate.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    The important question is not if it is ethical, but is it legal to place conditions on a variance.

    Our variance enabling legislation allows for reasonable terms and conditions to be placed on variances. We use this to negotiate other items in the development and to mitigate the variance. The best example of this is with landscaping within a parking area, we had one application were the property owner was willing to turn land over to the City and build a portion of the City's walking trail in exchange for having reduced landscaping in the parking lot. In the big picture of things the trail being built was much better then a few trees in the parking lot.

    Our variances do not have to relate to hardship, they only have to be desirable for the development of the land and within the intent of the By-law and Plan.

    As for the ethics of the terms and conditions, in our legislation it is temperd by the idea of being reasonable.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    I am sharing this website with my fellow Planning Commissioners.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Coming from the other side of the table I can tell you that this is done all the time. "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours"

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