Chapter 20.72
VARIANCES

Sections:

20.72.010    Purpose of provisions.

20.72.020    Application.

20.72.030    Public inspection of application.

20.72.040    Hearing and notice.

20.72.050    Conditions of approval.

20.72.060    Consideration of evidence.

20.72.070    Decision.

20.72.080    Expiration of approval.

20.72.010 Purpose of provisions.

The variance provision is designed to allow the commission to adjust the regulations of this title in special cases where unusual physical features of the particular parcel involved would make a strict application of the zoning regulations unreasonable. Under no circumstances shall a variance be granted to permit a use of land or structure which is not otherwise permitted in the zone involved. Rezoning is the only legal means of changing permitted uses of land and buildings. [Ord. 867 § 1, 2013; Ord. 485 § 5, 1985; prior code § 95.65.030(1).]

20.72.020 Application.

A. A written application shall be filed with the commission through the zoning administrator.

B. The application shall include the following:

1. A description by lot and block of the property involved;

2. The signature of the owner of the property concerned;

3. Site plans showing the location of all existing and proposed buildings or alterations, elevations of such buildings or alterations, and such other data as may be required;

4. A fee of $50.00 unless a higher after-the-fact application fee is required;

5. The fee for after-the-fact variance applications is $150.00 unless:

a. The applicant did not own the property prior to:

i. November 1, 2006, in the case of a lot located within the boundaries of the former City of Wrangell, as those boundaries existed immediately prior to borough formation; or

ii. May 30, 2008, in the case of a lot located outside the boundaries of the former City of Wrangell, as those boundaries existed immediately prior to borough formation;

b. The violation existed prior to the applicant owning the property;

c. The violation was not disclosed to the applicant at the time the applicant acquired ownership; and

d. An application is submitted within 60 days of the applicant receiving notice or otherwise becoming aware of the violation.

C. “After-the-fact” means an application for a variance which is received by the borough after the construction, alteration or use for which the variance is required has commenced. [Ord. 867 § 1, 2013; Ord. 833 § 54, 2009; Ord. 788 § 3, 4, 2006; Ord. 485 § 5, 1985; prior code § 95.65.030(2)(a).]

20.72.030 Public inspection of application.

From the time of filing such application until the time of the commission’s hearing, the application, together with all plans and data submitted, shall be available for public inspection in the office of the administrative official. [Ord. 867 § 1, 2013; Ord. 485 § 5, 1985; prior code § 95.65.030(2)(b).]

20.72.040 Hearing and notice.

Before taking any action on the proposed variance but within 60 days of the filing of the application, the commission shall hold a public hearing on the proposed variance. At least 10 days before the hearing a public notice specifying the subject, time and place of the hearing shall be posted at City Hall. In addition, at least 10 days’ notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be mailed to the applicant and to all property owners within 300 feet of the property. Hearing notices shall be mailed at least 20 days prior to a hearing for applications within the RMU district. [Ord. 867 § 1, 2013; Ord. 485 § 5, 1985; prior code § 95.65.030(2)(c).]

20.72.050 Conditions of approval.

The commission must find all four of the following conditions to exist in order to grant the variance:

A. That there are exceptional physical circumstances or conditions applicable to the property or to its intended use or development which do not apply generally to the other properties in the same zone;

B. That the strict application of the provisions of this title would result in practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships. Financial difficulty shall not considered a hardship under this provision;

C. That the granting of the variance will not result in material damage or prejudice to other properties in the vicinity and will not be detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare;

D. That the granting of the variance will not be contrary to the objectives of the comprehensive plan. [Ord. 867 § 1, 2013; Ord. 485 § 5, 1985; prior code § 95.65.030(2)(d).]

20.72.060 Consideration of evidence.

The commission shall hear and consider evidence by way of testimony from any person at the public hearings, or by written communication to the commission received by the commission before the time set for the hearing. [Ord. 867 § 1, 2013; Ord. 485 § 5, 1985; prior code § 95.65.030(2)(e).]

20.72.070 Decision.

A. The commission shall render its decision within 30 days after the conclusion of the public hearing, unless such time limit is extended by common consent and agreement signed by both the applicant and the commission.

B. A variance may not be granted because of special conditions caused by actions of the person seeking relief or for reasons of pecuniary hardship or inconvenience. A variance may not be granted which will permit a land use in a district in which that use is prohibited.

C. The decision of the commission and the reasons for the decision shall be entered into records of the commission.

D. The zoning administrator shall give the applicant written notice, by prepaid certified U.S. mail or hand delivery, of the decision of the commission. The notice shall inform the applicant that the applicant has 15 days from the date of the decision of the commission to file a notice of appeal with the borough clerk sitting as the clerk for the board of adjustment pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 20.80 WMC. [Ord. 867 § 1, 2013; Ord. 485 § 5, 1985; prior code § 95.65.030(2)(f).]

20.72.080 Expiration of approval.

Any variance granted by the commission shall expire unless the privilege is utilized within one year of granting the variance. [Ord. 867 § 1, 2013; Ord. 788 § 5, 2006; Ord. 485 § 5, 1985; prior code § 95.65.030(2)(g), (h).]