Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Variances from the Building Code

Here is a concrete example of what I was talking about in my post a couple of days ago, Florida Hometown Democracy.

The first link is to an agenda for a recent meeting of the Key West Board of Adjustment. Like the Local Redevelopment Authority, the Board of Adjustment is made up of all of the members of the City Commission. Same people, different hats. The agenda included eighteen (18) petitions for variances from the City's building codes, plus two appeals from previous denials of variances.

The basis(es) for granting variances are specified within the codes themselves. Here are the conditions that <must be met for the grant of a variance by the Board of Adjustment:

Standards for considering variances. Before any variance may be granted, the board of adjustment must find all of the following:
(1) Existence of special conditions or circumstances. That special conditions and circumstances exist which are peculiar to the land, structure or building involved and which are not applicable to other land, structures or buildings in the same zoning district.
(2) Conditions not created by applicant. That the special conditions and circumstances do not result from the action or negligence of the applicant.
(3) Special privileges not conferred. That granting the variance requested will not confer upon the applicant any special privileges denied by the land development regulations to other lands, buildings or structures in the same zoning district.
(4) Hardship conditions exist. That literal interpretation of the provisions of the land development regulations would deprive the applicant of rights commonly enjoyed by other properties in this same zoning district under the terms of this ordinance and would work unnecessary and undue hardship on the applicant.
(5) Only minimum variance granted. That the variance granted is the minimum variance that will make possible the reasonable use of the land, building or structure.
(6) Not injurious to the public welfare. That the grant of the variance will be in harmony with the general intent and purpose of the land development regulations and that such variance will not be injurious to the area involved or otherwise detrimental to the public interest or welfare.
(7) Existing nonconforming uses of other property not the basis for approval. No nonconforming use of neighboring lands, structures, or buildings in the same district, and no permitted use of lands, structures or buildings in other districts shall be considered grounds for the issuance of a variance.

The results of the B of A hearing aren't reflected in the after-meeting report posted on-line. There's no way to tell from the posted agenda how many of the adjustments were granted or denied. Quite possibly each variance that was approved met all of the conditions described above. Or maybe they didn't. How is one to know?

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