Section 4.08 – VARIANCES: *

[Your Township’s] Board of Adjustment shall have the exclusive power to order the issuance of variances from the requirements of any official control including restrictions placed on nonconformities. Variances shall only be permitted when they are in harmony with the general purposes and intent of the official control and when the variances are consistent with the comprehensive plan. The Board of Adjustment may not permit as a variance any use that is not permitted for the property in the district where the affected person’s land is located. The Board of Adjustment may impose conditions in the granting of variances. A condition must be directly related to and must bear a rough proportionality to the impact created by the variance.

(* While each TCPA Township has its own zoning ordinance – which may vary slightly – this is excerpted from the Olmsted County Ordinance.)


Variances – Practical Application

As described in the ordinance excerpt above, Variances are issued only after a petition to your respective Township Board of Adjustment. The Board of Adjustment members can vary by Township. Most often, in Townships with only three Town Board members, the Board of Adjustment is comprised of the Town Board plus the Clerk and the Treasurer. In Townships with five-member Boards, or appointed – as opposed to elected – Clerks, the Board of Adjustment may be different. Consult TCPA or your respective Township.

Your Variance application will be considered during a public hearing at a monthly Board meeting. State Statute requires that surrounding property owners be notified by postcard and the general public be notified by publication of the meeting date in the local newspaper of record. Your neighbors and the general public have the right to attend the meeting and express their concerns and opinions – for or against – your application.

Due to the notification requirements described above coupled with the fact that many of the local newspaper(s) of record are weekly publications, means that any application for a Variance must be complete no less than a month before the Board of Adjustment meeting date in your respective Township. (See the individual Township pages on this site for those meeting dates/times.)

The TCPA Zoning Administration staff will write a report that details your application and whether or not it meets the criteria of the ordinance. TCPA staff mails the report to you, the Board of Adjustment and the Town Board members and then presents the report at the public hearing.

After considering the staff report, any potential public comments as well as comments from other local governmental agencies, your Township Board of Adjustment will vote to either deny or approve your application. They also have the option to approve your application with certain conditions.


What Uses Require a Variance?

A variance to a property line setback is the most frequently requested variance. Many times there is just no alternative, if a property owner is going to be able to do what they want to do. This may be a result of how the home was originally sited or it could be because a road has been widened and a building that once met the required setback does not meet it now.

It is importamnt to remember that simple desire of where you’d like to place a building or improvement is not enough to obtain a variance. If there are other practical options those options need to be explored before applying for a variance.

If your proposed project or property use does not fall within the parameters of the ordinance you may want to consult with TCPA Staff to determine if a Variance is a possibility.


How Do I Apply for a Variance?

When you click the button below you’ll have access to an editable form you’ll use to apply for your Variance. You can either fill in the form on-line and email or mail it; or you can print it off and fill it in by hand. Your application will not be considered complete until the TCPA office is in receipt of your completed application, a site plan and the required fee.

Please don’t hestiate to contact our office if you have questions.