Board of Zoning Appeals
These are answers for questions we commonly receive about the Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission. They are only for general information and should not be relied upon for legal advice.
No. The Planning Commission is a separate body (see CO 1101) with different powers and duties: recommendations for zoning districts and their regulation, approval of plats, control of building characteristics, and review and approval of conditional uses, site plans for business uses within the Village, and signs, among others.
A variance is a relaxation of the terms of a zoning regulation when, due to conditions peculiar to the property and not the result of actions by the applicant, a literal enforcement of the regulation would result in “unnecessary hardship” (for a use variance) or a “practical difficulty” (for an area variance). A variance must “not be contrary to the public interest”, must observe the “spirit of the Zoning Ordinance” and let “substantial justice” be done. See CO 1145.04(b). There is a broad range of applicable case law as well, especially with regard to “area variances” which may consider “practical difficulties” that fall short of unnecessary hardship.
Note: The BZA does not consider variances to the Platting Regulations (CO 1121); this authority is reserved to the Planning Commission, and those applications should be directed to the PC. These are unusual cases, and the Zoning Inspector will advise when applicable.
If it is not practical to comply with particular requirements of the Village Zoning Code, you will need to obtain a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals to have the Village waive those requirements. The Zoning Inspector will advise you as to whether your plans comply with the Zoning Code. If not, you can either bring the plans into compliance or apply for a variance by requesting a hearing before the BZA. Receiving a variance is not guaranteed.
The application process begins with the Clerk at the Boston Heights Village Hall, 45 E. Boston Mills Road, during its regular business hours.
The Clerk will:
- supply the BZA Application Form required for all business before the Board of Zoning Appeals, as well as copies of the Zoning or Building Codes, if required
- accept and receipt the BZA application fee of $100.00 (CO 1145 .05 or CO 1101.05)
- direct you to the appropriate Village official (usually the Zoning Inspector), who can explain the process, answer questions, and offer assistance on the completion of the required forms.
The Clerk cannot and will not offer legal advice on Village zoning regulations. The Clerk is not responsible for enforcement or application of zoning rules in the Village. Please do not harass or abuse the Clerk.
While Village staff may assist in completing your application, please note that it is the responsibility of the Appellant or Applicant to compile the necessary documents and complete the forms, including (if required by law) listing owners of surrounding properties, their mailing addresses, parcel numbers, and plot plan details. The property owner ( or legal representative thereof) must also sign each application. Incomplete applications are not acceptable.
Hearings are scheduled on the basis of receipt, completeness, estimated time considered necessary for the hearing, and attorneys’ schedules. In general, complete applications received at least 20 days before the next regular meeting of the BZA will be considered at that meeting, but this is not guaranteed.
How do I know whether my sign must be reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission (PC) or by the Board of Zoning (BZA)?
The Zoning Inspector can advise you on this point. If the sign is intended to be higher or larger than the Zoning Code allows (CO 1179), or otherwise non-compliant, you will need a variance -as well as PC approval for permanent signs.
Early in 2005, the Village of Boston Heights regularized its sign regulations within its Zoning and Building Codes. In general, all permanent signs must be reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission. Only in case of special conditions will the BZA grant variances to these regulations, or to the decisions of the Planning Commission. Some signs, including temporary signs, need only be registered with the Village if they conform to code. Contact the Village Hall for the appropriate application forms.
A BZA hearing is your opportunity to present your request to the BZA. The BZA Application Form may indicate documents that you are required to supply for your hearing; see also the requirements of CO 1147.02. In most cases, detailed dimensioned drawings and renderings are necessary. You may present other documents and exhibits to support your request. If the case is complicated, you may wish to use experts to establish substantial competent evidence.
The Zoning Inspector, Building Inspector, or other Village official or employee, may testify regarding their findings. Other interested parties attending the hearing are also given an opportunity to speak regarding your application.
The BZA will generally make a decision at the conclusion of the hearing: approval, approval with conditions, or denial. By law, however, the BZA make take up to 10 days to decide an appeal, or longer if warranted. Decisions on an appeal will be in the form of a resolution (CO 1145.02). Decisions will be followed up with an “official” written decision within thirty (30) days of the hearing.
The presence of an attorney is not required. An applicant usually presents his or her own case. However, if the matter is complex, you may wish to be represented by an attorney. This is entirely up to you.
You may wish to attend a hearing before your case is heard. By listening to the presentations and questions asked by the BZA, you will get a sense of the workings of the Board.
Someone else in the Village has already done X in the Village – why can 't I be allowed to do X also?
There are different zoning districts in the Village, where different regulations apply. In addition, some past uses and permits are due to “grandfathering” of a specific parcel or use. Some have been granted under earlier zoning regulations or districting, or because of special circumstances as defined by law or by the findings of the Board of Zoning Appeals. Some past uses and permits may have been granted in error, or on the basis of legal opinions that have been found to be no longer applicable to the Village of Boston Heights.
This is not defined by the Codified Ordinances of the Village of Boston Heights. You may wish to contact the Village Solicitor, or consult your own attorney. Also see Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2506, Appeals from Orders of Administrative Officers and Agencies.
Yes, any person aggrieved by a decision of the Zoning Inspector may appeal that decision to the BZA. The same application process and fee apply to appeals.
A conditional use is a particular use that is permitted in a particular zoning district only after the Planning Commission has conducted a hearing, applied specified criteria, and imposed conditions when appropriate. Previous to September 7, 2007 the BZA was responsible for considering and granting conditional uses. On or after that date, the Planning Commission is responsible for granting conditional uses; please apply to the PC instead.
The BZA does not have the authority to change the zoning designation of your property. Only the Village Council can rezone property, after receiving the recommendation of the Planning Commission. You may contact the Clerk of the Planning Commission to obtain the rezoning procedures and forms. You may also wish to discuss your proposal with the Zoning Inspector. See CO 1143.03 and 1147.03.
BOARDS & COMMISSIONS
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45 E. Boston Mills Rd.
Boston Heights, OH 44236