Article 25. Variances

This is only one article of the full zoning ordinances. To see the full, official document, either scroll to the bottom of this article or click here.

Section 25.1. INTENT.

To authorize upon appeal in specific cases such variances from the terms of this zoning ordinance, of which will not be contrary to the public interest and where a property owner can show by reason of exceptional circumstances or other peculiar situation affecting a lot of record existing at the time of passage of this ordinance. Furthermore, evidence should be shown indicating the strict application of these regulations will actually prohibit the use of such property in a manner similar to that of other property in the district and result in an unnecessary hardship. In certain circumstances, a variance may be authorized and issued that will not be contrary to public interest and where the Board shall be satisfied by the evidence heard before it, that the granting of such variation will alleviate a hardship as distinguished from a special privilege sought by the owner.


Section 25.2. APPLICATION.

A variance from the terms of this ordinance shall not be granted by the Board of Adjustment unless and until an application for the variance shall be filed with the Zoning Administrator. The application shall include the following:

  • Name and address of the owner and applicant.
  • Address and legal description of the property.
  • If the applicant is not the legal owner of the property, a statement that the applicant is the authorized agent of the owner.
  • A statement describing the variance requested and the reasons why it complies with the criteria for variances provided in this section.
  • The property address, name and mailing address of the owner of each lot immediately adjacent to the property requesting a variance, and to those properties within 200 feet of the subject property.
  • Site plans, as prepared in accordance with Article 14.
  • The application shall be accompanied by a fee, as established by City Council.

The Zoning Administrator may request additional information necessary to enable a complete analysis and evaluation of the variance request, and a determination as to whether the circumstances prescribed for the granting of a variance exist.


Section 25.3. PROCEDURES.

The Zoning Administrator shall review the application and prepare a report to be submitted to the Board of Adjustment and available to the applicant prior to the public hearing.

The Zoning Administrator shall set the public hearing. Notice of public hearing shall be given as required by state statute by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the city. Such notice shall be no more than 20 and no less than 7 days prior to the public hearing. Notice shall be given by ordinary mail to the applicant and to the owners of property within two hundred feet (200’) of the subject property within seven (7) days prior to the public hearing. The applicant is responsible for providing at the time of application a complete list of persons who currently own property within two hundred feet (200’) of the subject property. In the event there is more than one property owner for any parcel of property, it shall be sufficient to notify only one owner of each parcel by ordinary mail. The public notice shall include appropriate information pertaining to the general nature of the application or decision, and identifying the applicant, the subject property, the time and place of the meeting or hearing, and the address and telephone number from which additional information may be obtained.

The public hearing shall be held. Any party may appear in person or by agent or attorney.

Prior to making any decisions on a variance application, the Board shall give careful consideration to whether the variance is contrary to the nature, intent and general objectives of the zoning ordinance and the city’s comprehensive plan. Furthermore, that in granting such a variance, there will be no reasonable precedent established for others to follow which would make future zoning enforcement more difficult, and that no injustice or discrimination will result to other property owners in not granting them the same privileges.

The Board of Adjustment may grant a variance if it makes affirmative findings of fact on each of the following criteria.

  • That special conditions and circumstances exist which are peculiar to the land, structure, or building involved and which are not applicable to other lands, structures, or buildings in the same district.
  • That literal interpretation of the provisions of this ordinance would deprive the applicant of rights commonly enjoyed by other properties in the same district under the terms of this ordinance.
  • That the special conditions and circumstances do not result from the actions of the applicant.
  • That granting the variance requested will not confer on the applicant any special privilege that is denied by this ordinance to other lands, structures, or buildings in the same district. No nonconforming use of neighboring lands, structures or buildings in other districts shall be considered grounds for the issuance of a variance.

The Board of Adjustment shall further make a finding that the reasons set forth in the application justify the granting of the variance and that the variance is the minimum variance that will make possible the reasonable use of the land, building or structure.

The Board of Adjustment shall further make a finding that the granting of the variance will be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of this ordinance, and will not be injurious to the neighborhood, or otherwise detrimental to the public welfare.

The Board of Adjustment shall act upon the application not more than 45 days following the closing of the public hearing for a variance. The Board may grant a variance as applied for, or in modified form, or subject to conditions established by the Board, or the application may be denied. The Board shall notify the applicant of its decision. The concurring vote of three (3) members of the Board of Adjustment is necessary to grant a variance, even in the case of absentee or conflicts of interest.

Every variance granted or denied by the Board of Adjustment shall be accompanied by a written finding of fact, based upon testimony and evidence; and specifying the reasons for granting or denying such variance.

In granting any variance, the Board of Adjustment may prescribe appropriate conditions and safeguards in conformity with this ordinance. Violations of such conditions and safeguards, when made a part of the terms under which the variance is granted, shall be deemed a violation of this ordinance and punishable under Article 22, Violation and Penalty.


Section 25.4. LAPSE OF VARIANCE.

Unless a longer time period shall be specifically established as a condition of approval, a variance shall lapse and shall become void one (1) year following the date on which the variance became effective, unless prior to the expiration of one year a zoning permit is issued and construction is commenced and diligently pursued toward completion on the site which was the subject of the variance application, or a certificate of occupancy is issued for the site or structure which was the subject of the variance application, or the site is occupied if no zoning permit or certificate of occupancy is required.



Upon violation of any applicable provision of this ordinance, or if granted subject to the conditions, upon failure to comply with conditions, a variance shall be revoked upon notification from the Zoning Administrator to the owner of the use or property subject to the variance.



Any person or persons, or any board, taxpayer, department or bureau of the community aggrieved by a decision on a variance request by the Board of Adjustment may only seek review and appeal of such decision by a court of record in the manner provided by the laws of the State of Iowa and particularly by Chapter 414, Code of Iowa.



Unless otherwise specified at the time a variance is granted, a variance shall run with the land and shall continue to be valid upon a change of ownership of the site or structure to which it applies.


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