A variance is an approved departure from the normal requirements imposed by the local zoning ordinance. A variance is needed if construction, alteration, or occupancy of a structure will result in a violation of zoning requirements.
An application for a variance will be reviewed by the Department of Community Development and referred for approval or denial to the Zoning or Planning Board.
Types of Applications
"a" - Appeals
Type "a" Appeals are filed when the applicant alleges that there is an error in any order, requirement, decision, or refusal made by the Zoning Officer in enforcing the Zoning Ordinance.
"b" - Interpretations
Type "b" Interpretations are filed when an applicant requests an interpretation of the Zoning Map or Zoning Ordinance.
"c" - Variances (Bulk)
"c" Variances are filed when an applicant seeks an exception to the strict application of the Zoning Ordinance. Bulk variances are filed for the following reasons:
- Exceptional narrowness, shallowness, or shape of a specific piece of property
- Exceptional topographic condition
- Physical features which prohibit construction if strict adherence to the Zoning Ordinance is applied
- The variance, by deviation from would advance the purpose of the zoning ordinance and the benefit of the deviation would substantially outweigh any detriment caused by the deviation
"d" - Variances (Use)
"d" Variances are filed by an applicant for one of the following reasons:
- To construct or create a use or principal structure in a Zoning district that has restrictions against such use or principal structure
- To expand a non-conforming use
- To deviate from a conditional use requirement
- To increase the permitted floor area ratio (FAR) in a specified Zoning District
How to Begin
If you plan to construct, replace, or alter a structure, first review the zoning requirements of Article VI-B. If it is still unclear that a variance is required, contact the Department of Community Development. Please be prepared to provide a copy of a survey with the addition sketched in, or a plot plan showing the new structure. The distance from the structure to front, rear and side property lines must be shown.
The Department will review your plan and inform you if a variance is required and what Board you must apply to. You may download the variance application and proceed with the application.
If you plan to establish any use of a property or expand a nonconforming use then you must inquire of the Zoning Officer in the Department of Community Development. You will be told whether or not a variance is needed. If so, download the variance application and proceed with the application.
Effect of Variances
If a variance is obtained, a Zoning Permit will be issued. Then, building permits and/or certificates of occupancy may be obtained from the township Department of Code Enforcement. These documents will allow construction or occupancy to commence.
Variances are tied to the land. This means that a variance will continue in effect as ownership of the property or business changes. However, the new owners must adhere to the terms and conditions of the original variance granted and obtain all other necessary approvals and permits as required by law. If a use permitted by variance is abandoned, then the variance ceases.