Variances and Appeals

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Current Size: 80%

Individuals interested in deviating from the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance (not to include use changes) or interested in appealing a decision of the Zoning Administrator may request such action and apply to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

List itemVariance and Appeals Applications 

List itemZoning Variance

List itemZoning Appeal

List itemHow to Initiate a Variance or Appeal


 

Variance and Appeals Applications: PDF IconAll files are in PDF format.

Zoning Variance Application [79KB]

Zoning Appeal Application [82KB]

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Zoning Variance

Subject to the provisions of City Code Section 10-3-132 through 10-3-140 (Article W. Board of Zoning Appeals of the Zoning Ordinance), the board shall have the power to grant the following variances:

  1. A variance in the yard and lot area requirements in any district as to relieve practical difficulties or particular hardships in cases when a property owner can show that his property was acquired in good faith and where by reason of exceptional narrowness, shallowness, size or shape of a specific piece of property at the time of the effective date of the Zoning Ordinance or where by reason of exceptional topographic conditions or other extraordinary situation or condition of such piece of property, or the use or development of property immediately adjacent thereto, the strict application of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance would effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the use of the property, or where the board is satisfied, upon the evidence heard by it, that the granting of such variance will alleviate a clearly demonstrated hardship as distinguished from a special privilege or convenience sought by the applicant; provided, that all variances shall be in harmony with the intended spirit and purpose of the Zoning Ordinance.
  2. No variance shall be authorized by the Board unless it finds:  that the strict application of this chapter would produce undue hardship, that such hardship is not shared generally by other properties in the same zoning district and the same vicinity, and/or that the authorization of such variance will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property and that the character of the district will not be changed by the granting of the variance.
  3. No such variance shall be authorized except after notice and hearing as required by section 15.1-431 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended.
  4. No variance shall be authorized unless the Board finds that the condition or situation of the property concerned or the intended use of the property is not of so general or recurring a nature as to make reasonably practicable the formulation of a general regulation to be adopted as an amendment to this chapter.
  5. In authorizing a variance the Board may impose such conditions regarding the location, character and other features of the proposed structure or use as it may deem necessary in the public interest, and may require a guarantee or bond to insure that the conditions imposed are being and will continue to be complied with.

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Zoning Appeal

An appeal to the Board may be taken by any person aggrieved or by any officer, department, board or bureau of the City affected by any decision of the Zoning Administrator, or from any order, requirement, decision or determination made by any other administrative officer in the administration or enforcement of the Zoning Ordinance.

Such appeal shall be taken within ten (10) days for a notice of violation involving temporary or seasonal commercial uses, maximum occupancy limitation of a residential dwelling unit, keeping of inoperable vehicles and junk, or similar short term, recurring violations, or within thirty (30) days after the entry of any other decision appealed from by filing with the Zoning Administrator, and with the board, a notice of appeal specifying the grounds thereof. The Zoning Administrator shall forthwith transmit to the recording secretary of the Board all the papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed was taken. An appeal stays all proceedings in the furtherance of the action appealed from unless the Zoning Administrator certifies to the Board, after the notice of appeal shall have been filed with them, that by reason of facts stated in the certificate of stay would, in their opinion cause imminent peril to life or property. In such case proceedings shall not be stayed otherwise than by a restraining order which may be granted by the Board or a court of record, on application and on notice to the Zoning Administrator and on due cause shown.

In any case where the Zoning Administrator has certified conformity with the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance and a building permit has been issued and construction of the building for which such permit was issued is subsequently sought to be prevented, restrained, corrected or abated as a violation of the Zoning Ordinance, suit may be filed within fifteen (15) days after the start of construction by a person who had no actual notice of the issuance of such permit. The court may hear and determine issues raised in the litigation even though no appeal was taken from the decision of the Zoning Administrator to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

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How to Initiate a Variance or Appeal

An application to the Board for a variance or appeal may be made by any property owner, tenant, government official, department, board or bureau. Such application shall be submitted to the Planning and Zoning Division. All information including maps and plans required by the application, or otherwise required by the Board in order that it might be fully informed, shall be furnished by the applicant. The matter shall be placed on the agenda for the next available Board meeting. Every variance or appeal shall be advertised for a public hearing in a newspaper published or having general circulation in the City. Applications require notice letters to be sent to adjoining property owners and the subject properties are posted advertising the request.

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Questions? Contact the Planning and Zoning Division at the Department of Planning and Community Development at 540-432-7700 or visit 409 South Main Street, 2nd Floor, Harrisonburg, VA 22801.