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    Sec. 35.1-13. Variances.


    Sec. 35.1-13. Variances.
    (a) Definitions. Variance means, in the application of the zoning ordinance, a reasonable deviation from those provisions regulating the size or area of a lot or parcel of land, or the size, area, bulk or location of a building or structure when the strict application of the ordinance would result in unnecessary or unreasonable hardship to the property owner, and such need for a variance would not be shared generally by other properties, and provided such variance is not contrary to the intended spirit and purpose of the ordinance, and would result in substantial justice being done. It shall not include a change in use which change shall be accomplished by a rezoning or by conditional zoning.
    (b) Intent. Variances may be granted to the regulations of this ordinance when, owning to special conditions, a literal enforcement of the provisions will result in unnecessary hardships; provided that the spirit of this ordinance shall be preserved and substantial justice done.
    (c) Conditions. When a property owner can show that his property was acquired in good faith and where by reason of the exceptional narrowness, shallowness, size or shape of a specific piece of property at the time of the effective date of this ordinance, or where by reason of exceptional topographic conditions or other extraordinary situation or condition of such piece of property, or of the condition, situation or development of property immediately adjacent thereto, the strict application of the terms of the ordinance would effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the utilization of the property or where the board is satisfied, upon the evidence heard by it, that the granting of such variance will alleviate a clearly demonstrable hardship approaching confiscation as distinguished from a special privilege or convenience sought by the applicant, provided that all variances shall be in harmony with the intended spirit and purpose of this ordinance.
    No such variance shall be authorized by the board of zoning appeals (or the zoning administrator) unless it finds:
    (1) That the strict application of the ordinance would produce undue hardship.
    (2) That such hardship is not shared generally by other properties in the same zoning district and the same vicinity.
    (3) That the authorization of such variance will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property and that the character of the district will not be changed by the granting of the variance.
    (4) That within the intent and purpose of this ordinance, the variance, if granted, is the minimum variance necessary to afford relief.
    The zoning administrator may authorize a variance, not to exceed one (1) foot from the required dimension, for a building setback for one and two-family dwellings. The zoning administrator shall give written notice of the request for such a variance to the adjacent property owner(s) at the expense of the petitioner, as provided for in Section 35.1-19. The adjacent property owner(s) shall be given an opportunity to respond to the request within twenty-one (21) days of the date of the notice. If any adjoining property owner(s) object to the said request within the time specified above, the request shall be transferred to the board of zoning appeals for a decision. The cost of this notification shall be taxed to the applicant, unless waived by the city, at the standard rate as determined by the city council's current fee schedule for each written notice.
    No such variance shall be authorized by the board except after notice and hearing as required by Section 35.1-19.
    No variances shall be authorized unless the board finds that the condition or situation of the property concerned is not of so general or recurring a nature as to make reasonably practicable the formulation of a general regulation to be adopted as an amendment to the ordinance.
    No variance shall be authorized to the sign requirements contained within this ordinance for commercially or industrially zoned land that would exceed the "Rules and Regulations Controlling Outdoor Advertising in Zoned and Unzoned Commercial and Industrial Areas" adopted by the State of Virginia and the Virginia department of highways and transportation.
    In authorizing a variance, the board may impose such conditions regarding the location, character and other features of the proposed structure or use as it may deem necessary in the public interest, and may require a guarantee or bond, payable to the City of Lynchburg, in such amount and for such period of time as the board may designate, to ensure that the conditions imposed are being and will continue to be complied with.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the property upon which a property owner has been granted a variance shall be treated as conforming for all purposes under state law and local ordinance; however, the use or structure permitted by the variance may not be expanded.
    It shall be a further requirement that the decision or determination of the board of zoning appeals shall set forth each required finding and such other findings as shall be appropriate in each specific grant of a variance, and in each denial thereof, which of the findings have not been satisfied. In any such case, each finding shall be supported by evidence in the record.
    (d) Flood hazard considerations:
    (1) Variances shall not be issued within any designated regulatory floodway if any increase in flood levels during the base flood discharge would result;
    (2) Variances may be issued for new construction and substantial improvements to be erected on a lot of one-half (1/2) acre or less in size contiguous to and surrounded by lots with existing structures constructed below the base flood level, in conformance with the procedures listed herein;
    (3) Variances shall only be issued upon a determination that the granting of a variance will not result in increased flood heights, additional threats to public safety, extraordinary public expense, create nuisances, cause fraud on or victimization of the public or conflict with existing local laws or ordinances;
    (4) Variances shall only be issued upon determination that the variance is the minimum necessary, considering the flood hazard, to afford relief;
    (5) The city shall notify the applicant in writing over the signature of the zoning administrator that the issuance of a variance to construct a structure below the base flood level will result in increased premium rates for flood insurance up to amounts as high as twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for one hundred dollars ($100.00) of insurance coverage, and such construction below the base flood level increases risks to life and property. Such notification shall be maintained with a record of all variance actions as required below;
    (6) The city shall maintain a record of all variance actions, including justification for their issuance, and report such variances issued in its annual report submitted to the administrator.
    (e) Lapse of variance. If a building permit for construction authorized by a variance under this action shall not have been applied for within six (6) months of the granting of such variance, the variance so granted shall become void.
    (f) Fees for variances. See Section 35.1-12. (Ord. No. O-78-352, 12-12-78; Ord. No. O-82-189, §1, 9-14-82; Ord. No. O-88-009, § 1, 1-12-88; Ord. No. O-90-223, 7-10-90, eff. 7-1-90; Ord. No. O-00-023, 2-8-00; Ord. No. O-06-114, 9-12-06)
    Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM