Administrative Adjustment Process

by J Scott on August 1, 2013

As Carol discussed in her recent video, we want to modify the front setback of our house — bringing it 10 feet (20%) closer to the street. The county has a streamlined process for making small (less than 20%) changes to various zoning regulations; the process (called an “Administrative Adjustment” or an “AA”) is similar to getting a variance, but instead of lot of hearings and judicial review, the decision is ultimately made by the Director of Planning & Zoning herself.

In order to qualify for an AA, you need to prove four things about your property:

  1. That there are unique physical conditions, including irregularity, narrowness or shallowness
    of the lot shape; exceptional topography, or other existing features peculiar to the particular
    lot; and that as a result of such unique physical conditions, practical difficulties or
    unnecessary hardships arise in complying strictly with the bulk provisions of these
  2. That the variance, if granted, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood or
    district in which the lot is located; will not substantially impair the appropriate use or
    development of adjacent property; and will not be detrimental to the public welfare.
  3. That such practical difficulties or hardships have not been created by the owner. Where all
    other required findings are made, however, the purchase of a lot subject to the restrictions
    sought to be varied, shall not itself, constitute a self-created hardship.
  4. That within the intent and purpose of these regulations, the variance, if granted, is the
    minimum variance necessary to afford relief.

The process is about 5 weeks (whereas a variance can take months or years), and the basic process is:

  • Submit a “petition” making your case, supporting the four key items above and provided supporting evidence (surveys, engineering reports, etc)
  • Post a sign indicating the requested change and also indicating the time/location of the hearing where you will be pleading your case
  • Attend a scheduled hearing with the Director of Planning & Zoning and present “testimony” to support your case
  • Wait a week or so and get a decision from the Planning & Zoning Department

The entire process costs $325, which accounts for the budget line item under “Variance”…

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