The Augusta County Zoning Ordinance establishes development guidelines for each zoning district. When strict adherence to the requirements is not possible, a variance can be requested from the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). The Code of Virginia, however, is very specific regarding when a variance can be issued. It states that a variance can be granted only “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.”
Unnecessary or Unusual Hardship:
There is not a specific definition of these terms. There are, however, a number of guidelines based on legal precedent which may assist in determining whether or not a property owner qualifies for a variance.
Strict application of the terms of the zoning ordinance will preclude the use of the land for any purpose for which it is reasonably adapted.
How to Apply:
A presubmission conference with County staff is required prior to making application on a variance request. Application is made with the Zoning Administrator in person at the Community Development Office. A sample variance application and BZA review plan can be found here. Applications will be filled out by County staff. A $250 fee is required at the time of application. Applicants must also submit a BZA review plan with the application. The plan must be drawn to scale on 8 ½” x 11” paper and contain or be accompanied by the following:
- Tax Map and Parcel Number
- A scale drawing of the tract or lot with dimensions or, a boundary survey of the lot if available
- Names of owners of all adjoining property – including those across the street
- Location of all zoning districts, buildings, structures, and boundary lines
- Type of surfacing, size, design, and dimension of all off-street parking and loading spaces
- Location, design, and dimensions of all vehicular entrances and exits to the site
- Locations and dimensions, including height in feet, and the proposed general use and capacity of all buildings
- Off-street parking information
- Erosion and sediment control information, if applicable
- Stormwater management information, if applicable
What Happens Next:
County staff notifies adjacent property owners and advertises in a newspaper having general circulation in the County. Staff also prepares staff reports which are sent to the applicant and Board of Zoning Appeals members. Copies are made available to the public at the Government Center.
What Happens at the Meetings:
- The following process is used at the Board of Zoning Appeals meetings for variances:
- The Chairman will announce the request
- The applicant or his representative will present his case for the variance
- Persons wishing to speak in favor of the request will be allowed to do so
- Persons wishing to speak in opposition to the request will be allowed to do so
- The applicant or his representative will be given a chance for rebuttal
- The public hearing will be closed
- The request will be discussed by the BZA
- The BZA will either approve the request, approve the request with stipulations, disapprove the request, or table the request until a later date
If Approved, What is the Next Step:
If the variance is approved, the proposed development must go through the normal site plan (if required) and building plan review process. The BZA review plan is not a substitute for a site plan. For information on this process, contact the Community Development Department and the Building Inspection Department.
Can a BZA Decision be Appealed:
Any decision of the Board of Zoning Appeals can be appealed to the Circuit Court within 30 days of the BZA’s decision.