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Obtaining a variance from your city’s zoning laws

On Behalf of | May 17, 2021 | Municipal Law

Zoning serves an important function in our society. It restricts certain types of industries to specific areas so that you don’t have to worry about having an oil refinery spring up in the middle of your residential neighborhood. Sometimes, however, you may want to use your land in a way that isn’t allowed by your city’s zoning code, such as operating a store or raising animals on your property that is zoned solely for residential use.

What is a variance?

A variance is an exception to the zoning code for a particular property. The city’s zoning board can hear a proposal for a variance and decide whether to grant it or not.

In making this decision, the zoning board usually considers a variety of factors, including the general welfare of the citizenry and the effect that the variance would have on the overall layout of the city.

Obtaining a variance

Every city has different requirements for requesting a variance. Each city usually lists the procedure to follow on their zoning board’s website.

Using the city of Butler as an example, you would have to submit an application directly to the zoning board. This application should explain the type of variance you want and how your proposed use is inconsistent with the zoning code. It must also include a plot plan of your lot that shows all buildings and other important information. You’ll need five copies of your application, and you’ll need to pay a filing fee.

Some cities’ processes are more complex than others. If you need assistance with gathering the necessary documents and drafting your application, you can hire an attorney who has extensive experience with municipal law to prepare and submit it for you.

Although zoning laws are necessary, sometimes they can be inconvenient for a property owner who wants to use their land in a non-conforming manner. Luckily, a process exists that will allow you to seek an exception for your land so that, hopefully, you can use it in the way you want.