• Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no echo chambers. Create your FREE Cyburbia ID, and join us today! You can also register through your Reddit, Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Microsoft account.

variance question..

StLouisBurbs

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
A developer is currently in the wrong zoning district for a group home for troubled youth. This developer is requesting from the Board of Adjustment for a variance to allow the group home to exist in the district. Has anyone ever heard of such a thing. Wouldnt the developer be required to rezone the property to the approproiate district? I have never heard of getting a variance for a use... any thoughts?
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Can you provide more information?

Does your code specifically allow use variances?

What does the land use component of your master plan call for?

When you say the developer is in the wrong zoning district, is this an existing facility or a proposed facility?

Keep in mind the implications of the Fair Housing Act may compel you to allow certain uses regardless of your local zoning prohibitions.
 

Glomer

Member
Messages
207
Points
9
A variance is generally not used for a use......

You are correct in thinking that they should rather be going for a rezoning.....

However, since it appears they are an existing use, they would be considered a lawful nonconforming use....and unless they plan on expanding the use in the near future, they should be just fine.
 

Jeffc

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
The State planning legislation in New Jersey allows for use variances. The standards are very strict, but with creative thinking you can meet the standards. I agree that you should be advised to keep in mind the Fair Housing Act when you are talking about a group home. Generally I believe that as long as you are not subjecting the group homes to any other standards or requirements of other residential uses permitted in the particular district, then you are not in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
 

StLouisBurbs

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
Follow up on my original post

The petitioner has decided to sell the property and forget about the entire project all together after the neighboring residents complained and fought to get them out of the nabe. After two years of meeting and arguing with the nabe association they've called it quits. Goes to show that perservance does pay off!!
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,692
Points
57
StLouisBurbs wrote:
A developer is currently in the wrong zoning district for a group home for troubled youth. This developer is requesting from the Board of Adjustment for a variance to allow the group home to exist in the district. Has anyone ever heard of such a thing?
Yup ... in poorly managed municipalities.

The majority of state planning enabling acts prohibit use variances; it's using a judicial process (the variance) when a legislative solution (rezoning) is available to make the same request. Separation of power, you know.

I think, though, you're seeing the result of a poorly written zoning code. Group homes may be permitted as a "special use" or "special exception." Usually, a special use is granted by the legislative bodies (Planning and Zoning Board, appeal to or final approval by the City Council, Town Commission, Town Board or whatever). The code may permit group homes as a special exception -- with special exception approval through the Board of Adjustment (which normally hears variance requests) instead of a legislative body.

The only way I see the B of A considering a "use variance" is if the applicant was appealing a denial by te planner; the B of A serves its judicial role and hears a request to interpret the zoning regulations.
 

Mary

Member
Messages
127
Points
6
What you do with group homes also depends on what state your in. In Washington group homes up to a certain number of people are next to untouchable in residential zones.
 
Top