Zoning Board of Appeals hears appeals, evaluates requests for interpretations
and approves or denies dimensional and use variances.
variance is permission from the ZBA to allow a deviation from the code or
ordinance as it pertains to zoning matters. Zoning codes are in place to
regulate the use of land within a community. To bypass a zoning code, the
property owner is required permission from the ZBA for a variance. The majority
of cases before the ZBA are variances and in Michigan there are two types of
variances: dimensional (non-use) and use variances.
nonuse or dimensional variances is a modification of a provision or requirement
of the zoning ordinance authorized by the zoning board of appeals when the
strict or literal application of the ordinance would cause "practical
difficulties" for the applicant. Nonuse variance requests are typically
associated with modifications of required yard setbacks, building heights,
parking requirements, landscaping or buffering restrictions and related
building or facility placement provisions. The granting of a nonuse variances
requires the appellant to demonstrate a practical difficulty. Practical
difficulty is generally determined by the Zoning Board of Appeals through
application of the following four standards:
Whether strict compliance with the restrictions governing area, setbacks,
frontage, height, bulk or density would unreasonably prevent the owner from
using the property for a permitted purpose, or would render conformity with
such restrictions unnecessarily burdensome.
Whether a grant of a variance would do substantial justice to the applicant as
well as to other property owners in the district, or whether a lesser
relaxation than that applied for would give substantial relief to the owner of
the property and be more consistent with justice to other property owners.
Whether the plight of the owner is due to unique circumstances of the property
and not to general conditions in the area.
Whether the problem is self-created.
use variance allows a use of land that is not permitted in the district in
which the property is placed. The granting of a use variance requires the
appellant to show unnecessary hardship. Unnecessary hardship is generally determined
by the Zoning Board of Appeals through application of the following four
standards, all of which must be demonstrated:
The property could not be used for the purposes permitted in that zone.
The plight is due to unique circumstances peculiar to the property and not to
general neighborhood conditions.
That the use would not alter the essential character of the area.
That the problem is not self-created.
considering both use and nonuse variances, the ZBA must ensure that the "spirit
of the ordinance is observed, public safety secured and substantial justice
either a use or nonuse variance is denied, the applicant may appeal the
decision to the County Circuit Court. The Court review the appeal "denovo,"
meaning it only looks at the record before the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Further, the appellate standard of review is very high. Therefore, it is
extremely important to make sure that the applicant provides as much
information as possible to the Zoning Board of Appeals and works with professionals
to give it the best advantage of seeking the relief he or she desires in the