What must be proven in order to be granted an area variance?

If requesting an area variance, that is, permission to build in an otherwise restricted portion of the property (such as in the required front, side or rear yards, or above the required building height, or in excess of the lot coverage regulations), then State law requires the applicant to show that the benefit the applicant stands to receive from the variance will outweigh any burden to health, safety and welfare that may be suffered by the community. State law requires the ZBA to take the following factors into consideration in making its determination: 

(1) whether an undesirable change will be produced in the character of the neighborhood, or a detriment to nearby properties will be created by the granting of the area variance; 

(2) whether the benefit sought by the applicant can be achieved by some method which will be feasible for the applicant to pursue but would not require a variance; 

(3) whether the requested area variance is substantial; 

(4) whether the proposed variance will have an adverse effect or impact on the physical or environmental conditions in the neighborhood or district; and 

(5) whether an alleged difficulty is self-created. 

Unlike the use variance test, the ZBA need not find in favor of the applicant on every one of the above questions. Rather, the ZBA must merely take each one of the factors into account. The ZBA may also decide that a lesser variance than the one requested would be appropriate, or may decide that there are alternatives available to the applicant which would not require a variance.

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1. Why might you consider an appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals?
2. How is the appeals process initiated?
3. Under what circumstances may an appeal be made to the Zoning Board of Appeals?
4. Who may apply to the ZBA for relief?
5. What decisions or actions are appealable?
6. What types of relief can the ZBA grant?
7. After a Notice of Appeal has been filed, what must happen?
8. What is the responsibility of the applicant at the hearing?
9. Will the ZBA make a decision the night of the hearing?
10. What is the basis for the ZBA’s decision on an interpretation?
11. What must be proven in order to be granted a use variance?
12. What must be proven in order to be granted an area variance?
13. Must the variance, if granted, be exactly what was applied for by the applicant?