A variance may be approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals if the Board concludes that the strict enforcement of any design or performance standard set forth in the LMO would result in unnecessary hardship to the applicant and that by granting the variance, the spirit of the LMO will be observed, public welfare and safety will not be diminished and substantial justice will be done.
Who may apply?
The owner, developer or responsible agent shall initiate a request for a variance by filing an application.
When to apply?
Complete applications must be submitted at least 45 days before the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting. See the BZA schedule for meetings and application deadlines.
An application for variance shall consist of information necessary for the Board of Zoning Appeals to make a determination regarding the variance request, including, but not limited to the following:
- Variance Application
- Community Development Department Fee Schedule
- A site plan at a scale 1"=30' accurately showing the variance(s) requested.
- Certification, written and signed by the development site owner of record, that such owner formally consents to the proposed development.
- A written narrative explaining in detail the variance(s) requested and how the criteria of Section 16-3-1806 apply to the variance request.
- Any supporting documentation deemed necessary by the applicant.
- Schedule an application check-in meeting with the Community Development Department to submit application and discuss your project. (843)341-4681
Staff at Town Hall will assist with the following:
- Check the application for completeness. Note: The application must be complete before it is accepted.
- Assign a Project Manager to handle and process the application.
- Contact the applicant to let you know the Public Hearing date.
- Notify the public of the Board of Zoning Appeals Public Hearing by:
- placing an advertisement in the Island Packet newspaper; and,
- placing a sign on the property to notify passersby.
- Prepare a report listing Staff's recommendation to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
- Contact the applicant throughout the process to notify you of the progress.
The Applicant is responsible for and is required by law to...
- Send a Notice to property owners (via certified mail) within 350 feet of the property under consideration. Addresses are listed with the Beaufort County Tax Assessor's office in Beaufort (843)470-2522.
- The notice must be mailed at least 21 days before the public hearing; and,
- The notice must include the date, time and location of the public hearing. It is also recommended that details of the request be included.
- Submit to the Community Development Department, at least seven days before the public hearing, an affidavit of compliance stating that the notice to property owners has been sent via certified mail.
- Notify appropriate property owners' associations (if applicable) and solicit any comments in writing to be sent to the Community Development Department and the applicant within 14 days of receipt of notification.
Criteria for Approval of Variances
- A variance may be granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals if the Board concludes that the strict enforcement of any design and performance standard set forth in the LMO would result in unnecessary hardship to the applicant and that by granting the variance, the spirit of the LMO will be observed, public welfare and safety will not be diminished and substantial justice done. A variance may be granted in an individual case of unnecessary hardship if the Board determines and expresses in writing all of the following findings:
- there are extraordinary and exceptional conditions pertaining to the particular piece of property; and
- these conditions do not generally apply to other properties in the vicinity; and
- because of these conditions, the application of the ordinance to the particular piece of property would effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the utilization of the property; and
- is not the result of the applicant's own actions; and
- granting of the variance does not substantially conflict with the Comprehensive Plan and the purposes of the LMO; and
- the authorization of the variance will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property or the public good, and the character of the district will not be harmed by the granting of the variance.
The Board may not grant a variance, the effect of which would be any of the following:
- to permit a use of land or a structure that is not allowed in the applicable district;
- to allow the physical extension of a nonconforming use;
- to increase the density of a use above that permitted by the applicable district; and
- to vary the sign regulations.
The fact that property may be utilized more profitably, should a variance be granted, may not be considered grounds for a variance.
Action by the Board of Zoning Appeals
- The Board of Zoning Appeals shall hold a public hearing on the variance application.
- After review of the special exception application and the public hearing, the Board of Zoning Appeals shall make a written finding and give its approval; approval with modifications or conditions; or disapproval to the variance request.
- If approved, or approval with modifications or conditions is granted, the decision shall be communicated in writing to the applicant; and the applicant shall thereby be authorized to submit a development plan application consistent with Article XVIII of the LMO.
Please refer to Chapter 3, Article XVIII of the LMO for more details.