What Is a Variance and How Do I Apply for One?
When it comes to developing or improving real property, zoning regulations are everything. Before you purchase a piece of property, and certainly before you start designing plans for the property, it is imperative that you know how the property is zoned and you understand the restrictions that apply to how the property is zoned. If the current zoning will not allow you to develop or improve the property in the manner in which you wish, a variance might be the answer. Of course, that leads to the question “What is a variance and how do I apply for one?"
Zoning regulations and restrictions, in general, determine how a property may be used. If you want to know whether you can operate a specific type of business on a property, you look to the zoning classification of the property. Likewise, if you want to know what type of sign you can erect for your business, or even how many floors a residential home may have, you look to zoning. Sometimes, however, the current zoning regulations prohibit you from doing what you want to do with a piece of property. If your proposed usage is drastically different than currently allowed usages, you will likely need to apply for a re-zoning. However, if the requested change is relatively minor, a variance might be sufficient. To apply for a variance in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, you must apply to the Borough Council. To get a variance approved, you must show that the current zoning restrictions “inflict unnecessary hardship upon the applicant.” The Council may approve a variance if all of the following are true:
- That there are unique physical circumstances or conditions in the neighborhood or district in which the property is located.
- There is no possibility that the property can be developed in strict conformity with current restrictions.
- You have not created the unnecessary hardship.
- A variance will not alter the essential character of the area, nor substantially or permanently impair the appropriate use or development of adjacent property, nor be detrimental to the public welfare.
- The variance represents the least modifications and variance possible.
Applying for a variance can be a complicated process because of the information required to be included when submitting the application, including maps, plans, and a written explanation for why the variance is needed. After the application is submitted to the Council, all abutting and adjoining property owners must be notified along with the public at large. A public hearing is then held to discuss the application, after which the Council will vote on the application.
Applying for a variance can be time-consuming and complicated, which is why it is always best to work with an experienced Conshohocken real estate law attorney to ensure that everything is done currently the first time around. Contact the real estate law firm Curley & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819 today to schedule your free consultation.