Area Variances

Most of the ZBA's hearings involve requests for area variances.  These variances usually involve requests to build a structure closer to a property line or the center of the road than allowed by the zoning code.  If the Code Enforcement Officer applied the Zoning Code correctly, but you think you should be allowed to do what you were cited for or denied a permit for, you can request an area variance.  

Will my variance request be approved if I pay the fee and fill out the forms properly?

The ZBA isn't allowed to grant variances unless your request meets certain legal requirements. Even if the ZBA grants an exception, it must be the minimum variance from the Code that is necessary in the circumstances.  Please bear in mind that you are asking for an exception to an established rule.
Be prepared to tell the ZBA exactly what exception you are asking for.  For example: "I want to make the front setback 48 feet from the centerline of the road instead of 50 feet to save an old oak tree that is in the way of the building's footprint."

What do I need to tell the ZBA about my variance request?

You should be prepared to tell the ZBA what is different about your property than other properties in your district.  You can ask the Town Board to change the rule for everyone if your situation isn't unusual.

The ZBA will consider your answer to these questions and other factors permitted by New York law.  You can tell us more at your hearing:

 1.  Will an undesirable change be produced in the character of the neighborhood, or a detriment to nearby properties?  If not, why not?

2.    Is there a feasible alternative you could choose that would provide the benefit you are seeking?  Explain what alternatives you considered and why it is necessary to obtain a variance, rather than modify the project to meet the minimum requirements of the Zoning Code.

3.    Is this a substantial variance?  How significant is the difference between the rule in the Code and what you want to be allowed to do?

4.    Would the variance you want have an adverse impact on the physical or environmental conditions in the neighborhood?

5.   Was your difficulty following the Zoning Code created by some unknown characteristic of your land, like unexpectedly hard soil or excessive drainage from neighboring lands?  Is this difficulty self-created (simply your desire to do something not permitted, or the result of poor planning), or is there some other reason that you can’t comply with the Code?

What else do I need to include in my application?

Please provide the ZBA with maps or drawings that help explain what you want to do. We strongly encourage you to get an instrument survey and provide architectural drawings.  Instrument surveys may be required in the future by the ZBA.  Poor drawings and measurements may lead the ZBA to reject your application for lack of adequate information.

My proposal will be an attractive addition, and my neighbors have no problem with it. Why was my permit denied?

The Code Enforcement Officer's job is difficult.  He or she must deny permits that don't meet Varick's Zoning Code, even if he or she thinks your use is otherwise safe and acceptable. 

My proposal will be an attractive addition, and my neighbors have no problem with it. Why might my variance request be denied?

Likewise, sometimes we members of the ZBA have to deny variances that we personally think would be attractive improvements, because we are bound by the Zoning Code and New York law.  We are not permitted by law to grant exceptions to the Zoning Code without specific reasons and evidence.

Here is a link to the form needed to request an Area Variance.  The form is also available from the Code Enforcement Officer and other Town officials.