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Variance Requests

433 Hay St. - Hours of Operation: Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


What is a Variance from the Unified Development Ordinance?

(For Variances from the Requirements of the Stormwater Ordinances, please click here.)

A Variance allows the property owner to deviate from the specific dimensional standards found in the UDO (lot size or area, setbacks, height, bulk standards) when the strict application of these standards would result in “practical difficulties and unnecessary hardships” that result from the unique circumstances related to the land.

Because the hardship must stem from special circumstances or conditions beyond the landowner’s control (such as topographical conditions, narrowness, shallowness, or the shape of a specific parcel of land), and not be created by the actions of the landowner, a Variance is not easily obtained.

A Variance does not allow a change in use; If a landowner wants to accomplish a change in use, it is necessary to obtain approval of a Map or Text Amendment.

Variance Process


The Zoning Commission hears cases for Variances from the zoning ordinance and Appeals of the zoning officer's decisions as well as Appeals of the Historic Resources Commission's decisions. For these actions, the Zoning Commission serves as a quasi-judicial review board, appointed by City Council, whose duty is to hear sworn testimony regarding the request and who are to base their decisions on the General State Statute findings of fact that are required to approve a request.

Public Hearing

The case is heard at a Public Hearing before the Zoning Commission. Anyone wishing to speak at the Public Hearing, including the applicant, MUST sign up to speak in advance with Planning staff, or on the day of the hearing in City Council Chambers prior to the beginning of the meeting.


The Zoning Commission either Approves or Denies the request after hearing sworn testimony from those who are signed up to speak. Planning staff will present information relating to the property and surrounding area and the ordinance requirements that relate to the Variance requested.

The Zoning Commission makes the final decision as to Approve or Deny Variances. These requests do not go before the City Council.

A quorum of the Board is four members. However, the desired number of members to be present is 5 because a four-fifths vote is required for Approval. If only 4 members are present all 4 have to vote in favor of a request in order for the request to be Approved. If 5 members are present, at least 4 members have to vote in favor of a request, in order for the request to be Approved.

An Appeal of the Zoning Commission's decision may be made with the Clerk of Superior Court within 30 days of the Board's decision.


Should you have any questions about the Application or Variance Request process, please contact the Planning Department at 910-433-1612.

 Apply online here

(For Variances from the Requirements of the Stormwater Ordinances, please click here.)

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