A zoning variance authorizes a landowner to do something that is not allowed by the zoning ordinance. There are two types of variances: area variances and use variances. An area variance allows a property owner to violate a dimensional requirement of the zoning ordinance (such as a building setback or height limit), whereas a use variance allows a landowner to use a property in a manner that is not specifically authorized for the district. Use variances are generally more difficult to obtain and may be prohibited by the local ordinance. The zoning board of adjustment or appeals reviews variance requests based on criteria outlined in state statutes and case law.
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Introduction to variances, appeals and amendments/rezones.