What to Expect at a
Variance Adjudication Hearing
After processing your variance application, we will notify you by mail of the date of your hearing before
the Zoning and Building Standards Board of Appeals. The property owner or its representative must appear at
the hearing for the Board to evaluate the variance application. The following information is provided to assist
you in preparing for your hearing:
The Board will evaluate your variance application during an adjudication hearing. The hearing is your
opportunity to present evidence to the Board that you are entitled to the variance. You or your representative,
or both, may appear on your behalf, but if neither of you appear, the Board will dismiss your application.
The Board consists of a five-person panel of City residents and will evaluate the evidence you present
together with that of neighbors or fellow residents who believe they may be impacted by the Board’s decision
should it approve your variance. The Board’s decision must be supported by a preponderance of substantial,
reliable, and probative evidence. As the applicant, you have the burden to present the Board with evidence of
why you are entitled to the variance.
Because an adjudication hearing is a quasi-legal proceeding, you, and any other that wish to offer evidence
either for, or against, your application, will be sworn in, under oath, and are subject to cross examination.
Although the hearing is open to the public, adjudication hearings, however, are not subject to such public
comment but, instead, involve the determination of your rights and whether such rights should be granted based
upon evidence (not public opinion) presented at the hearing.
There are two types of variances: area and use. An area variance application is a request to deviate from
a zoning ordinance because of an odd configuration of the lot or a natural condition that prevents normal
construction within the City’s zoning ordinances. A use variance application, however, is a request to use a lot in
a way not permitted within the zoning ordinance.
For an area variance, the Board must evaluate the following 10 criteria to determine whether the literal
enforcement of the City ordinance will result in practical difficulty:
1. Whether special conditions and circumstances exist which are peculiar to the land or structure involved
and which are not applicable generally to other lands or structures in the same zoning district. Examples of such
special conditions or circumstances are exceptional irregularity, narrowness, shallowness or steepness of the lot
or adjacency to non-conforming and inharmonious uses, structures or conditions;
2. Whether the property in question will yield a reasonable return or whether there can be any beneficial
use of the property without the variance (note that the fact that property can be put to a more profitable use
does not, in itself, establish a hardship if less profitable alternatives are available within the zoning classification);
3. Whether the variance is substantial and is the minimum necessary to make possible the reasonable
use of the land or structures;