Chapter 14.30


14.30.010    Nature of floodplain variances.

14.30.020    Appeal board.

14.30.030    Conditions for floodplain variances.

14.30.010 Nature of floodplain variances.

Floodplain variances pertain to a piece of property and are not personal in nature. A floodplain variance may be granted for a parcel of property with physical characteristics so unusual that complying with the requirements of this title would create an exceptional hardship to the applicant or the surrounding property owners. The characteristics must be unique to the property and not be shared by adjacent parcels. The characteristic must pertain to the land itself, not to the structure, its inhabitants or the property owners.

Floodplain variances from the flood elevation or from other requirements in this title shall be granted only in rare situations. The long-term goal of preventing and reducing flood loss and damage can only be met if floodplain variances are strictly limited. Therefore, the floodplain variance guidelines provided in this title are more detailed and contain multiple provisions that must be met before a floodplain variance can be properly granted. The criteria are designed to screen out those situations in which alternatives other than a floodplain variance are more appropriate. [Ord. 2020-147 § 4; Ord. 2011-059 § 4.]

14.30.020 Appeal board.

A. The floodplain board of the town shall hear and decide appeals and requests for floodplain variances from the requirements of this title.

B. The floodplain board shall hear and decide appeals when it is alleged there is an error in any requirement, decision, or determination made by the floodplain administrator in the enforcement or administration of this title.

C. In considering applications, the floodplain board shall consider all technical evaluations, all relevant factors, standards specified in other sections of this title, and:

1. The danger that materials may be swept onto other lands to the injury of others;

2. The danger of life and property due to flooding or erosion damage;

3. The susceptibility of the proposed facility and its contents to flood damage and the effect of such damage on the individual owner;

4. The importance of the services provided by the proposed facility to the community;

5. The necessity to the facility of a waterfront location, where applicable;

6. The availability of alternative locations for the proposed use, which are not subject to flooding or erosion damage;

7. The compatibility of the proposed use with existing and anticipated development;

8. The relationship of the proposed use to the comprehensive plan and floodplain management program for that area;

9. The safety of access to the property and all of its habitable structures in time of flood for ordinary and emergency vehicles;

10. The expected heights, velocity, duration, rate of rise, and sediment transport of the flood waters expected at the site; and

11. The costs of providing governmental services during and after flood conditions, including maintenance and repair of public utilities and facilities such as sewer, gas, electrical, water system and streets and bridges.

D. Upon consideration of the factors of subsection C of this section and the purposes of this title, the floodplain board may attach such conditions to the granting of floodplain variances as it deems necessary to further the purposes of this title.

E. Any applicant to whom a floodplain variance is granted shall be given written notice over the signature of a community official that:

1. The issuance of a floodplain variance to construct a structure below the regulatory flood elevation will result in increased premium rates for flood insurance coverage;

2. Such construction below the regulatory flood elevation increases risks to life and property; and

3. The land upon which the floodplain variance is granted shall be ineligible for exchange of state land pursuant to the flood relocation and land exchange program provided for by ARS 37-610. A copy of the notice shall be recorded in the office of the Pima County Recorder and shall be recorded in a manner so that it appears in the chain of title of the affected parcel of land.

F. The floodplain administrator shall maintain a record of all floodplain variance actions, including justification for their issuance, and report such floodplain variances issued in its biennial report submitted to FEMA. [Ord. 2020-147 § 4; Ord. 2011-059 § 4.]

14.30.030 Conditions for floodplain variances.

A. Variances shall only be issued:

1. 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;

2. For the repair, rehabilitation or restoration of structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places or the State Inventory of Historic Places, upon a determination that the proposed repair or rehabilitation will not preclude the structures’ continued designation as a historic structure and the variance is the minimum necessary to preserve the historic character and design of the structure;

3. Upon a determination that the variance is the minimum necessary, considering the flood hazard, to afford relief;

4. Upon a showing of good and sufficient cause;

5. Upon a determination that failure to grant the variance would result in exceptional hardship to the applicant;

6. Upon a showing that the use cannot perform its intended purpose unless it is located or carried out in close proximity to water. This includes only facilities defined in STC 14.10.020 in the definition of “functionally dependent use.”

B. Variances shall not be issued within any floodway if any increase in flood levels during the base flood discharge would result.

C. Generally, variances may be issued for new construction and substantial improvements to be erected on a lot of one-half acre or less in size contiguous to and surrounded by lots with existing structures constructed below the regulatory flood elevation, provided the procedures of Chapters 14.20 and 14.25 STC have been fully considered. As the lot size increases beyond one-half acre, the technical justification required for issuing the variance increases. [Ord. 2020-147 § 4; Ord. 2011-059 § 4.]