What to know about Variances
If you are denied a permit by a Plan Examiner at the Development Center to use land in a way that is not allowed by the Zoning Code, you may appeal that denial to the Board of Zoning Appeals. The Board will hold a public hearing to determine if a Variance can be granted. A final permit cannot be issued unless the Variance is granted.
The Milwaukee Code of Ordinances defines a Use Variance as:
Permission to depart from the literal requirements of the Zoning Code (Milw. Ord. 295-201-676).
-and defines a Dimensional Variance as:
Permission to depart from any of the literal requirements of this chapter except use regulations, including but not limited to departure from an area, setback, frontage, height, bulk, density or design requirement (Milw. Ord. 295-201-675).
The Board of Zoning Appeals has the authority to grant variances from the literal requirements of the code. To get a Variance, you must prove that because of the physical nature of the land, you cannot develop the land without violating the Zoning Code.
The Board's responsibility is to preserve the Zoning Code without change if possible, while making sure that the property owner is given substantial justice. A Variance is not intended as a convenience to the land owner.
If you apply for a Variance, you must file a statement that explains the following five points:
- Preservation of Intent. A variance would not be inconsistent with the spirit, purpose and intent of the regulations for the district in which it is requested.
- Exceptional Circumstances. Exceptional, extraordinary or unusual circumstances or conditions apply to the lot or intended use that do not apply generally to other properties or uses in the same district, and the variance is not of so general or recurrent nature to suggest amendment of the regulation.
- Preservation of Property Rights. The variance is necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of the same substantial property rights, which are possessed by other properties in the same district and same vicinity.
- Absence of Detriment. The variance will not create substantial detriment to adjacent property, and will not materially impair or be contrary to the spirit, purpose and intent of this chapter, or the public interest.
- Hardship, Use Variance. The alleged difficulty or hardship is not self-imposed nor is it based solely on economic grounds.
Hardship, Dim. Variance. In the case of a dimensional variance request, compliance with the code requirement from which the variance is requested would unreasonably prevent the property owner from using his or her property for a permitted purpose or would otherwise be unnecessarily burdensome.
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