Are you facing challenges in obtaining zoning variances for your property? Understanding the common reasons for zoning variance denials is crucial to navigate the complex process effectively. At TracisPermits.com, we specialize in zoning variances in Suffolk County and Nassau County, offering expert guidance and seamless applications to increase your chances of success.
- There are common grounds for zoning variance denials, ranging from failure to meet required standards to objections from neighbors.
- Reasons for denial of zoning variances can include self-created hardships or the inability to justify the need for a variance.
- Understanding dimensional and use variances is essential, as they have different approval standards and criteria.
- Writing effective variance standards is crucial to ensure clarity and coherence.
- Public input and site visits play a role in variance decisions, but the focus should be on the specific variance being requested.
To learn more about zoning variances and how to increase your chances of success, contact TracisPermits.com today at 631-492-0927. Our team is here to assist you in meeting local regulations and obtaining the variances you need.
Difference Between Dimensional and Use Variances
When it comes to zoning variances, there are two main types: dimensional variances and use variances. Understanding the differences between these variances is essential for navigating the zoning process effectively.
Dimensional variances deal with deviations from setback, area, height, and location requirements while still allowing for permitted uses within the zoning district. For example, if a property’s setback requirement cannot be met due to physical limitations or unique circumstances, a dimensional variance may be sought to accommodate the proposed development while complying with other zoning regulations.
Use variances, on the other hand, permit non-permitted uses on a property. This means that with a use variance, a property owner can request permission to use their property in a way that is not typically allowed under the existing zoning regulations. Use variances are often sought when the property owner can demonstrate that the land cannot be reasonably used as zoned.
The standard for approving dimensional variances is typically based on the concept of “practical difficulty.” This means that strict compliance with the zoning requirements would create unnecessary burdens or hardships for the property owner. On the other hand, use variances require demonstrating that the property cannot be reasonably used as zoned, which can be a higher threshold to meet.
It’s important to note that while cities and villages generally have the authority to grant both dimensional and use variances, townships may only grant use variances if they are provided for in their ordinances or if they were granted prior to 2006. Understanding these differences and the specific requirements for each type of variance is crucial when preparing a variance application.
Table: Differences Between Dimensional and Use Variances
|Deal with deviations from setback, area, height, and location requirements
|Permit non-permitted uses on a property
|Allow for permitted uses within the zoning district
|Allow for non-permitted uses
|Based on the concept of “practical difficulty”
|Require demonstrating that the property cannot be reasonably used as zoned
|Generally granted by cities and villages
|May only be granted by townships under specific conditions
By understanding the distinctions between dimensional and use variances, property owners can navigate the zoning process more effectively and increase their chances of obtaining the necessary approvals.
Tips for Writing Effective Variance Standards
When applying for a zoning variance, it is essential to provide clear and understandable standards that will guide the decision-making process of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the public. Well-written variance standards can make a significant difference in the success of your application. Here are some tips to help you write effective variance standards:
- Ensure clarity and coherence: Take the time to critically evaluate the existing standards in the zoning ordinance. Make sure they are clear and easy to understand, both for the Zoning Board of Appeals and the general public. Ambiguous or confusing language can lead to misinterpretations and potential denials of your variance application.
- Be specific and precise: Use precise language to define the criteria against which your variance will be evaluated. Clearly state the requirements that have to be met in order to justify the granting of the variance. This will help the Zoning Board of Appeals in assessing your application and making an informed decision.
- Provide examples and illustrations: To aid in understanding, provide examples and illustrations that demonstrate the practical implications of the variance standards. This will assist both the Zoning Board of Appeals and the public in visualizing the potential impact of the variance on the property and the surrounding area.
- Use plain language: Avoid using jargon or technical terms that may be unfamiliar to non-experts. Instead, use plain language that is easily understood by the general public. This will ensure transparency and accessibility, allowing all stakeholders to participate effectively in the decision-making process.
- Consider the “practical difficulty” standard: If your variance application falls under the “practical difficulty” standard, clarify what this means in understandable terms. Explain that it refers to the zoning ordinance’s requirements completely preventing reasonable improvement of the property or causing significant difficulty due to excessive costs or destruction of property features.
- Address the self-created hardship requirement: If self-created hardships are a factor in your variance application, provide a clear explanation that demonstrates how the difficulty or hardship was not the result of any unlawful actions by the property owner or predecessors. Show that it is a genuine constraint that justifies the need for a variance.
“Well-written variance standards can significantly improve the chances of your zoning variance application being approved. By ensuring clarity, coherence, and specificity, you can provide a solid foundation for the Zoning Board of Appeals to make an informed decision in your favor.”
By following these tips, you can effectively communicate your justification for a variance and increase the likelihood of success in obtaining the zoning variance you need.
Examples of Clear Variance Standards
|Minimum setback requirement may be relaxed if strict compliance would result in the loss of valuable existing landscape features or impede the reasonable development of the property.
|Maximum height requirement may be exceeded if necessary to accommodate essential utility installations or preserve the architectural integrity of historic or landmark structures.
|Non-permitted use may be allowed if it can be clearly demonstrated that the property cannot be reasonably utilized as zoned and that the proposed use will not adversely affect the character or integrity of the surrounding area.
TracisPermits.com is Long Island’s top choice for zoning variances. Expert guidance, seamless applications, and a high success rate in meeting local regulations in Suffolk County and Nassau County. Call 631-492-0927 Today!
Importance of Justifying the Variance Request
When applying for a zoning variance, it is crucial for the applicant to provide sufficient evidence justifying their request. This evidence serves as the backbone of their application, supporting their case for a variance and persuading the zoning authorities to grant it.
The zoning administrator plays a key role in evaluating variance applications. They have the responsibility to ensure that every required variance standard is adequately justified. This may involve requesting additional information or supporting documentation from the applicant.
Applicants must be prepared to provide comprehensive evidence to support their variance request. This evidence may take multiple forms, such as:
- Cost estimates for project modifications required to comply with zoning regulations
- Technical reports or studies demonstrating the unique circumstances justifying the variance
- Photographs, maps, or site plans illustrating the physical characteristics of the property
- Letters of support or expert opinions validating the need for the variance
By presenting substantial and convincing evidence, applicants increase their chances of obtaining a variance. Conversely, failure to provide satisfactory justification can result in the application being tabled for additional information or outright denied by the zoning authorities.
The burden of justifying the variance rests solely on the applicant. It is their responsibility to demonstrate that their circumstances warrant an exception to the zoning regulations. Without sufficient justification, the zoning authorities have no basis for granting the variance.
“The strength of an applicant’s evidence can make or break a variance request. A persuasive case supported by compelling evidence greatly enhances the chances of approval.”
Therefore, applicants must put in the necessary effort and resources to gather and present evidence that clearly justifies their variance request. This includes conducting thorough research, seeking expert opinions if needed, and ensuring that all required documentation is complete and well-organized.
Ultimately, a well-justified variance request demonstrates to the zoning authorities that the applicant has carefully considered the impact of their proposed project on the surrounding area and has taken all appropriate precautions and considerations into account. It reassures the authorities that granting the variance will not result in any adverse consequences or set an unfavorable precedent.
The Role of Public Input and Site Visits in Variance Decisions
When it comes to making important zoning variance decisions, public input plays a crucial role in the process. Involving the community and taking into account their perspectives can lead to better-informed outcomes. One important aspect of public input is neighbor objections to variances, as they provide valuable insights into the potential impacts on the surrounding area. However, it is essential to prioritize the specific variance being requested rather than general objections to construction or new development.
Another critical component of the decision-making process is site visits. The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) must physically visit the property to gain a comprehensive understanding of its unique characteristics and topography. While plans and aerial photographs can provide some information, nothing compares to personally experiencing the site. Site visits offer valuable insights that cannot be captured in any other way, ensuring that the decision is based on a thorough understanding of the property.
It’s worth noting that contact with neighbors or applicants outside of official meetings should be avoided. The ZBA’s authority must remain administrative and quasi-judicial, and maintaining a formal process is essential. All communications and interactions should occur within the confines of the official meeting.
Benefits of Public Input and Site Visits:
- Understanding the concerns and perspectives of the community.
- Evaluating the potential impact of the variance on adjacent properties.
- Gaining a firsthand understanding of the unique features of the property.
- Ensuring a fair and transparent decision-making process.
By actively involving the public and conducting site visits, the Zoning Board of Appeals can make well-informed variance decisions that consider the interests of all stakeholders involved.
Public input and site visits provide valuable insights into the impacts and unique characteristics of the property. By involving the community and personally experiencing the site, the Zoning Board of Appeals ensures a thorough and well-rounded decision-making process.
Community Engagement in Variance Decisions:
|Access to local knowledge and concerns
|Not all objections may be relevant to the specific variance
|Identification of potential impacts on adjacent properties
|Objecting parties may not fully understand the details of the variance request
|Inclusion of diverse perspectives in decision-making
|May lead to delays and extended review periods
Factors for Granting or Denying a Variance
When considering a zoning variance application, it is essential to carefully evaluate the factors that contribute to the decision-making process. These factors play a crucial role in determining whether a variance will be granted or denied, ensuring that the integrity of the adopted zoning ordinances is upheld.
- Granting Variances without Objections: The absence of objections from neighboring properties should not automatically guarantee the approval of a variance. While input from neighbors can provide valuable insights into the potential impact of the variance, it is important to base the decision on the specific merits of the application. Simply granting a variance because no objections are raised disregards the established zoning regulations and can set an unfavorable precedent.
- Denying Variances Based on Objections: On the other hand, denial of a variance should not be solely based on neighbor objections. While neighbor objections should be considered to understand the potential impact on adjacent properties, they should not be the sole determining factor. Rather, a comprehensive evaluation of the variance application should be conducted, taking into account the specific requirements and standards outlined in the zoning ordinances.
“The absence of objections from neighboring properties should not automatically guarantee the approval of a variance.”
By considering these factors, zoning boards can make fair and informed decisions that balance the needs of the property owner with the interests of the community. Granting variances without careful evaluation or denying variances solely based on objections can undermine the purpose of zoning regulations and negatively impact the overall community development.
Next, let’s explore the importance of properly defining approved variances and how it helps avoid confusion and potential conflicts.
Continue reading: Importance of Properly Defining Approved Variances
Importance of Properly Defining Approved Variances
When granting variances, it is crucial to specifically define the parameters of what is being approved. Vague terms like “variance allowing a five-foot side yard setback” can lead to ambiguity and unintended consequences. Minutes and records should describe the character of the approved building, incorporating drawings and elevations when possible. This ensures that the variance is granted for a specific building at a specific location, preventing misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
Clear definitions of approved variances play a vital role in maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of zoning regulations. By clearly specifying the scope and limitations of each approved variance, potential conflicts and misunderstandings can be minimized.
Defining approved variances involves providing detailed descriptions, specific measurements, and any necessary conditions or restrictions. This ensures that both the property owner and the relevant authorities have a clear understanding of the variance and the boundaries within which it is applicable.
Using precise language and including supporting documents, such as drawings and elevations, can provide additional clarity and assist in avoiding potential disputes or misinterpretations in the future.
“By accurately defining approved variances, we can ensure that both property owners and local authorities are aligned in their understanding of the approved changes and can carry out their respective responsibilities with confidence.”
Properly defining approved variances also benefits the wider community. With clear parameters for what is approved and what is not, neighboring properties and residents can have a clearer understanding of any potential impacts or changes that may occur. This transparency helps to maintain a balance between property rights and community interests.
Overall, clear and precise definitions of approved variances are essential for effective zoning regulation. By avoiding vague terms and providing detailed descriptions, local authorities can ensure that variances are granted with a full understanding of their intended scope. This promotes transparency, reduces conflicts, and maintains the integrity of the zoning process.
Preparing Findings of Fact for Challenged Variances
In case a variance is challenged in court, it is essential to have thorough findings of fact that explain why each factor for granting the variance is met. A general finding that “practical difficulties are present” is insufficient. Each factor should be specifically addressed, even if a variance is denied based on non-met factors. A well-documented record with detailed findings of fact strengthens the position of the Zoning Board of Appeals in the event of an appeal.
When preparing findings of fact for challenged variances, it is crucial to provide specific evidence and explanations for each factor that supports the approval of the variance. This helps establish a strong case and justifies the decision made by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“Practical difficulties are present” is a vague statement that does not provide sufficient information to support the variance. Instead, it is important to clearly articulate and document the specific practical difficulties that exist and how they establish a valid basis for granting the variance.
Each factor for granting the variance should be thoroughly addressed and explained in the findings of fact. This includes factors such as the unique characteristics of the property, the topography, any exceptional circumstances that justify the variance, and how granting the variance aligns with the objectives of the zoning ordinance and the community.
Example Findings of Fact:
Factor 1: Unique Characteristics of the Property
- Provide detailed information about the property’s size, shape, and location, emphasizing any physical limitations or constraints that make strict compliance with the zoning requirements impractical.
- Include photographs, surveys, or other visual evidence to support the argument that the property’s unique characteristics warrant the granting of the variance.
Factor 2: Topography and Exceptional Circumstances
“Due to the steep slope of the property and the presence of protected wetlands, it is practically impossible to satisfy the setback requirements without significantly compromising the buildable area. This constitutes an exceptional circumstance that justifies the variance.”
Factor 3: Consistency with Objectives of the Zoning Ordinance and the Community
- Explain how granting the variance is consistent with the overall objectives and spirit of the zoning ordinance.
- Demonstrate that the variance will not have a detrimental impact on neighboring properties or the community as a whole.
By meticulously preparing findings of fact for challenged variances, the Zoning Board of Appeals can effectively defend the decision to grant the variance. These findings provide a clear and comprehensive record of the factors considered and the reasoning behind the approval, strengthening the board’s position in the event of an appeal.
Handling Self-Created Hardships in Variance Applications
When applying for variances, it is important to note that hardships resulting from self-created actions by the property owner should not be granted special consideration. If, for instance, the owner constructed a structure that does not comply with the zoning ordinance, the subsequent hardship of demolition and relocation cannot be used as a justification for a variance.
However, it is crucial to distinguish between self-created hardships and the cost of demolition and removal. The latter should not be considered a hardship, as it was a consequence of the owner’s own actions. Instead of penalizing or sympathizing with the owner for the violation, the focus should be on approaching the application as if the building did not exist.
By treating self-created hardships in this manner, the fairness and integrity of the variance process are upheld, ensuring that variances are granted only for valid and justifiable reasons.
- Variance applications must not seek relief for hardships created by the property owner’s actions.
- Demolition and relocation resulting from violations should not be considered hardships.
- The focus should be on treating the application as if the non-compliant building did not exist.
The equitable treatment of variance applications demands that self-created hardships are not used as a basis for granting variances. Rather, the focus should be on considering variances in the absence of any violations by the property owner.
|The property owner constructs a non-permitted structure that violates zoning regulations.
|The owner applies for a variance to maintain the structure, citing the hardship of demolition and relocation.
|No consideration should be given to the self-created hardship resulting from the violation.
|The cost of demolition and removal is not classified as a hardship, as it was a consequence of the owner’s actions. The application should be approached as if the building did not exist.
Zoning variance denials can occur for a variety of reasons, including failure to meet required standards, objections from neighbors, or the presence of self-created hardships. To increase the likelihood of obtaining a zoning variance, applicants should provide sufficient evidence justifying their request and ensure that their standards are clear and understandable. While public input and site visits play a role in variance decisions, the focus should always be on the specific variance being requested. Thorough findings of fact and clear definitions of approved variances are essential for a well-documented record.
At TracisPermits.com, we understand the complexities of navigating zoning variances in Suffolk County and Nassau County. Our team of experts offers guidance, seamless application processes, and a high success rate in meeting local regulations. When it comes to zoning variances, trust the top choice on Long Island. Call us today at 631-492-0927 to learn more!
What are the top causes for zoning variance denials?
The top causes for zoning variance denials include failure to meet the required standards, objections from neighbors, and self-created hardships.
What is the difference between dimensional and use variances?
Dimensional variances deal with deviations from setback, area, height, and location requirements while allowing for permitted uses in the zoning district. Use variances allow for non-permitted uses.
What are some tips for writing effective variance standards?
Tips for writing effective variance standards include ensuring clarity and coherence, clarifying the “practical difficulty” standard, and explaining the requirement of the difficulty not being self-created.
How important is justifying the variance request?
Justifying the variance request is crucial as the burden of proof rests on the applicant. Insufficient justification can result in denial of the variance application.
What is the role of public input and site visits in variance decisions?
Public input and site visits play a role in variance decisions by providing valuable insights and assessing the impact on adjacent properties. However, contact with neighbors or applicants outside of official meetings should be avoided.
What factors are considered when granting or denying a variance?
Factors considered when granting or denying a variance include the specific variance request, not general objections, and the merits of the application, not just neighbor objections.
Why is properly defining approved variances important?
Properly defining approved variances is important to avoid ambiguity and unintended consequences. Clear descriptions of the approved building and location prevent misunderstandings.
How should findings of fact be prepared for challenged variances?
Findings of fact for challenged variances should be thorough and specifically address each factor for granting the variance. A detailed record strengthens the position of the Zoning Board of Appeals in case of an appeal.
How should self-created hardships be handled in variance applications?
Self-created hardships, such as violations of the zoning ordinance, cannot justify a variance. The focus should be on treating the application as if the building did not exist, rather than sympathizing with the owner for the violation.