About the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA)

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What is the Board of Zoning Adjustment?

The Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) is an eight member board made up of citizens appointed by the mayor. The BZA hears and makes final decisions on requests for variances from the requirements of the Zoning and Development Code, exceptions to fence height, considers appeals of administrative decisions, and makes final decisions on Special Use Permits. The BZA meets the second Tuesday of each month at 1:30 PM in the Council Chambers located in City Hall (414 E. 12th St. – 26th Floor). Visit the Boards and Commissions page for a BZA schedule.

The Zoning and Development Code designates regulations for residential, office, commercial, institutional and industrial uses. These regulations include requirements for setbacks, height limitations, signage, density, landscaping and allowed land uses. The Zoning and Development Code is adopted by City Ordinance. The BZA may grant relief from specific code requirements.

The BZA considers requests for the following:

  • Variance: In any specific case where strict enforcement of a zoning regulation would cause practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship, the BZA may vary or modify that regulation by granting a variance (Section 88-565).
  • Appeal of Determination: Administrative decisions may be appealed by any person aggrieved by the administrative official’s decision or action. Appeals of administrative decisions will be heard by the BZA to determine if an error has been made (Section 88-575).
  • Request for Rehearing: A rehearing may be granted on any BZA decision if the rehearing request includes new evidence to be presented that was not available at the time of the original hearing or when the BZA determines that good cause for a rehearing has been shown. A request for a Rehearing must be made within 30 days of the date the decision is issued (Sections 88-565-09 and 88-575-11).
  • Special Exceptions to Fencing Requirements: The BZA may grant a special exception to fence and wall height if there is good and sufficient cause and the proposed design will not adversely affect the appearance of the neighborhood or adjacent properties (Section 27-11)
  • Appeal of Legal Nonconformance: Certificates of Legal Nonconformance are issued by the City Planning and Development director. Appeals of the decision may be requested by the applicant or any aggrieved party within 15 days of the date the decision is issued (Section 88-610-01).
  • Special Use Permits: Special uses, because of their widely varying land use and operational characteristics, require case-by-case review in order to determine whether they will be compatible with surrounding uses and development patterns. Special Use Permits are reviewed by the City Planning and Development director, the City Plan Commission, and finally reviewed and approved or denied by the BZA (Section 88-525).

How do I submit an application to the Board of Zoning Adjustment?

  • Prior to submitting an application you must schedule a pre-application consultation with a staff planner.
  • Prepare all documents as required (see the BZA application for required documents).
  • Application may be submitted to the Development Management Division of the City Planning and Development Department (City Hall, 414 E 12th Street – 15th Floor).

What happens after I submit my application to the Board of  Zoning Adjustment?

  • After you submit your application you will be assigned a hearing date and docket time.
  • Staff will prepare a report detailing the request, videotape the property, and prepare a PowerPoint presentation. Staff will also send notice of a public hearing to all property owners within 300 feet of the subject property and will publish a legal notice in the newspaper.
  • The applicant will be given a sign to post on the property at least 15 days prior to the public hearing. An affidavit stating the sign was posted must be received prior to the BZA hearing. Special exceptions to fencing requirements and appeals do not require sign posting.
  • Any letters of support or opposition submitted to the BZA must be notarized.
  • A public hearing will be held before the BZA. The property owner or an authorized representative must be present. City staff will present the staff report, video and Power Point presentation to the BZA. The BZA will then hear testimony from the property owner and/or their authorized representative. Individuals attending the meeting in support or opposition of the application will be given opportunity to testify. The BZA will consider the information presented at the meeting and will move to grant or deny the request. The BZA may also choose to continue the case to allow more time to make a decision or to give the applicant time to modify their request or speak with neighbors.

What happens after the Board of Zoning Adjustment makes a decision?

Variances & Special Exceptions

  • If your variance or special exception request is granted, a disposition letter and approved site plan will be mailed within 10 days of the decision. The submitted site plan will be stamped approved and distributed to the Permitting and Investigations Divisions of the City Planning and Development Department. You may now apply for required permits to begin your project. Fences do not require permits. Approval granted must be established either by use or building permit within two years.
  • If your variance or special exception is denied, a disposition letter will be sent within 10 days of the decision. In order to receive required permits a new proposal meeting the requirements of the Zoning and Development must be created and approved. If the project has already been built it must be brought into compliance with the Zoning and Development Code. You may also request a rehearing from the BZA or appeal the decision of the BZA to circuit court. Fences do not require permits.

Appeals of Determinations

  • If the BZA upholds the decision of the administrative official you must bring your property into compliance with the Zoning and Development Code.
  • If the BZA finds the administrative official erred, your property is deemed in compliance in regards to the specific decision overturned. Additional property violations may still be present on the site.