The Zoning Board reviews applications that propose to utilize property in a manner not consistent with municipal zoning laws. They preview applications for variances that are basically non-permitted uses, and the Zoning Board is empowered to grant exceptions to the zoning ordinances in cases where the literal and rigid interpretation and enforcement of the zoning laws would cause hardship or injustice. These “non-permitted” uses are based upon the zoning ordinances established by the Village.
Mission of the Zoning Board
It is the Board’s chief goal to preserve the safety and welfare of the community with the objective of conserving the value of property and encouraging the most appropriate use of land throughout the Village. A simple definition would be that the Board “adjusts zoning” for specific applications, circumstances and pieces of property. Buildings, structures and businesses of various types are limited to specific zones. These zones are regulated with respect to category, nature and extent of use, along with specific plot sizes, required building setbacks, lot coverage and other regulations.
Limitations of Variances
Because zoning variances may infringe on the rights of neighbors, an applicant is not automatically entitled to a variance. An applicant must meet specific criteria contained in the local laws by satisfying specific legal standards of proof. This burden of proof is placed upon the applicant to demonstrate that the requested relief is justified without impinging upon the rights of others. Some items to consider when requesting a variance are special reason, benefits, negative criteria, and hardship.
Notification of Application
Zoning laws require that notice be served on all property owners within 200 feet of the applicant’s property and must be either hand delivered or sent by Certified Mail. The law also requires this notice be published in a local newspaper. Both must be done at least ten days prior to the hearing date. These forms of notification alert neighbors that a variance is being requested so all interested citizens will be assured an opportunity to attend and be heard at the public meeting.
Board Meetings and Composition
A Zoning Board meeting is a formal meeting where action is taken. Applicants and witnesses are sworn, the meeting is recorded by a Secretary who keeps an official record of testimony. Individuals have a choice of either presenting their own application before the Board or being represented by an attorney. All corporations MUST be represented by an attorney.
The members of the Board are resident volunteers appointed by the Mayor, with the advice and consent of the Board. They are assisted in their deliberations by the Board Attorney and those whose opinions are considered by the Board in its deliberations.