• Text Size:
  • A
  • A
  • A

Planning, Development & Building ConstructionVariances

What is a Variance?
A variance is a change from the strict enforcement of any design or performance standard that would result in unnecessary hardship to the applicant and that by granting the variance, the spirit of the law will be observed, public welfare and safety will not be diminished and substantial justice will be done.

Who may apply?
The owner, developer or responsible agent shall initiate a request for a variance.

When to apply?
Complete applications must be submitted at least 30 days before the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) meeting. See the BZA schedule for meetings and application deadlines.

General Variance Timeline and Process

General Variance Timeline and Process Graphic
Note: Time is measured in calendar days

How to apply for a Variance

Hard Copy: Complete and submit the Variance Application pdf icon.

Staff at Town Hall will assist with the following:

  • Assign a Project Manager to oversee the application process.
  • Coordinate with the applicant regarding the Public Hearing date and status of application.
  • Notify the public of the Public Hearing through an advertisement in the newspaper and by posting a sign on the property.
  • Prepare a report listing Staff's recommendation to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Applicant is responsible for and is required by law to...

  1. Submit a narrative and other information necessary for the Board of Zoning Appeals to make a determination regarding the request, including, but not limited to the following:
    • A site plan at a scale 1"=30' accurately showing the variance(s) requested.
    • Certification, written and signed by the site owner of record, that such owner formally consents to the proposed development.
    • A written narrative explaining in detail the variance(s) requested and how the criteria apply to the request.
    • Any supporting documentation deemed necessary by the applicant.
    • Notices to property owners within 350 feet regarding the Public Hearing date and time.
  2. Review Fee
  3. Instructions for the Public Hearing Notice to be sent to nearby property owners:
    • Addresses are listed with the Beaufort County Tax Assessor's officeexternal link iconin Beaufort 843-470-2522.
    • Must be certified mailed at least 15 days before the public hearing; and,
    • Must include the date, time and location of the public hearing. It is also recommended that details of the request be included.

Criteria for Approval of Variances

  • A variance may be granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals if the Board concludes that the strict enforcement of any design and performance standard would result in unnecessary hardship to the applicant and that by granting the variance, the spirit of the law will be observed, public welfare and safety will not be diminished and substantial justice done. A variance may be granted in an individual case of unnecessary hardship if the Board determines all of the following findings:
  • There are extraordinary and exceptional conditions pertaining to the particular piece of property;
  • These conditions do not generally apply to other properties in the vicinity;
  • Because of these conditions, the application of this Ordinance to the particular piece of property would effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the utilization of the property; and
  • The authorization of the Variance will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property or the public good, and the character of the zoning district where the property is located will not be harmed by the granting of the Variance.

Limitations

The Board may not grant a variance, the effect of which would be any of the following:

  • to permit a use of land or a structure that is not allowed in the applicable district;
  • to allow the physical extension of a nonconforming use;
  • to increase the density of a use above that permitted by the applicable district;
  • to vary the sign regulations; or
  • fact that property may be utilized more profitably, should a variance be granted.

Action by the Board of Zoning Appeals

  • After review of the special exception application and the public hearing, the Board of Zoning Appeals will make a written finding and give its approval; approval with modifications or conditions; or disapproval to the variance request.
  • Once BZA has made their decision, the Project Manager will notify the applicant.
  • If approved, or approval with modifications or conditions is granted, the applicant is authorized to submit a development plan application.

Please refer to Section 16-2-103.S of the LMOexternal link icon for more details.

For questions regarding this procedure, please contact the Community Development Information Center email icon at 843-341-4757.