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How do I apply for a variance from a zoning ordinance?

When it comes to land use and zoning issues, each county in every state usually maintains its own set of procedures and standards for how zoning codes are applied and enforced. Here in Maricopa county, the local governance recognizes that, in some cases, some zoning ordinances may in fact do more harm than good when interpreted strictly. As with many regulations, in an effort to account for many instances of use, regulations are often both specifically restrictive while being written broadly enough to be applied to circumstances beyond what the architects of the regulation envisioned in its writing.

The County of Maricopa understands that it is possible that your situation may justify granting some form of exemption or exception to a stated zoning ordinance, and has provided a mechanism for seeking this sort of exception.

Under the current statutes, an applicant may request that a variance under a zoning ordinance if “when, owing to peculiar conditions, a strict interpretation would work an unnecessary hardship, if in granting such Variance the general intent and purposes of the Zoning Ordinance will be preserved.”

It is important to note that, although appeals to the Board of Adjustment are regularly considered, there are some zones that specifically prohibit granting variances.

If you are in a situation that you believe justifies appealing for a zoning variance, it is wise to consult with an experienced attorney who is familiar with the many zoning regulations in your area, to be able to determine if seeking a variance is likely to be successful prior to filing an appeal.

Source: Maricopa.gov, “Variance / Appeal / Interpretation,” accessed Nov. 18, 2016

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