When a property owner wants to use his/her property for a use not allowed by the current zoning, the owner may apply for a zone change. The proposed new zone must be consistent with the City’s General Plan. The City Council may act to change the zoning of any property in the City of Waterford.
WHAT STEPS ARE NECESSARY TO GET YOUR PROPERTY REZONED?
Step 1 – File Application
The first step is to file a Rezoning Application with the Planning Department and pay the required fees. You may be required to submit a Development Plan and Policy Statement at the time that you submit your application. This requirement depends on the type of development you propose. When you file your application, you will be required to submit 14 copies of scale drawings showing the zoning and existing land uses. Please see the Rezoning Application for a list of submittal requirements. The Planning Department will review the application within thirty days to see if all the needed information was submitted. If all information is not submitted or is found inadequate, you will be notified by mail within fifteen days. That notification will tell you what additional information is required. When the application is complete, it will be assigned to a planner. The planner will refer your proposed project to other City departments and public organizations for their review. The planner will be your contact throughout the process.
Step 2 – Environmental Review
All rezoning applications will require a preliminary environmental review by the planner. The purpose of this review is to see if the project would cause any environmental impacts. You may be required to submit additional information regarding traffic, noise, etc. Following a review of all information, the planner will make the appropriate environmental determination.
Step 3 – Design Review
If the project application includes a Development Plan and Policy statement it will be scheduled for review by the Design Review Board. The Design Review Board’s recommendations will be sent to the Planning Commission.
Step 4 – Planning Commission Action
All rezonings require a public hearing before the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission’s role is to recommend either approval or denial of the project to the City Council. The planner will prepare a report with recommendations and forward it to the Planning Commission and to you before the meeting. The Planning Commission meets the fourth Thursday of each month. At the Planning Commission meeting you will be given an opportunity to present your proposal. The planner will then present staff’s analysis and recommendation. Any member of the public wishing to speak on the matter may do so. Following public comments, the Planning Commission will make a recommendation on your project to the City Council. If denied, the decision may be appealed to the City Council. The appeal must be filed in writing with the City Clerk within 15 days from the date of the Planning Commission action.
Step 5 – City Council Action
If the Planning Commission recommends approval to the City Council, the Council must hold a public hearing before taking final action. The case planner prepares a written report that includes the recommendations of the Planning Commission and forwards it to the City Council. You will receive a copy of the report and will be notified by mail of the date and time of the City Council meeting. City Council meetings are held the first and third Thursday of each month. The planner will present the Planning Commission recommendation to the City Council and you will be given an opportunity to present your proposal. Any member of the public is allowed to speak. Following public comments, the City Council will approve or deny your rezoning proposal. The City Council’s decision is final.
WHAT OTHER ACTIONS MAY BE REQUIRED?
Approval of the Tentative Map, if proposed, and the Conditional Use Permit if appropriate.
WHAT IS A VARIANCE AND WHEN IS ONE APPROPRIATE?
The Zoning Code helps to regulate development in the City. Regulations include, in part, minimum lot sizes, building setback lines, lot coverage, building height and parking requirements. Each development must meet the regulations for its zoning district.
Sometimes there are unusual conditions on the property and it may not be possible to meet all the zoning requirements when you are planning new construction. Your property may be so shallow, narrow or oddly shaped that you might qualify for a Variance. Sometimes the use or development of an adjacent property could make your building project impossible. In these cases, a Variance may be the solution.
A Variance may allow relief from Zoning Code regulations if enforcement of the regulations would:
Deprive you of the privileges enjoyed by other nearby properties having the same zoning AND If unique conditions (such as those listed above) are present.
Your application for a Variance must stand on its own. A previous Variance does not set a precedent for granting other Variances.
WHEN IS A VARIANCE INAPPROPRIATE?
A zoning Variance may not allow a use other than one permitted by the zoning district where the property is located.
HOW TO APPLY FOR A VARIANCE
You or your representative needs to submit a completed Variance application, along with copies of the site plan, a description of the project, and appropriate maps. The information you give us must show how property conditions keep you from meeting specific Zoning Code regulations.
Because a public hearing will be held, you also will need to give us a list of the names and addresses of all property owners within 300 feet of the property. This information will be used to notify the surrounding property owners of your Variance request.
WHAT IS THE REVIEW PROCESS?
We will check your application to see if it is complete. Next, we will assign it to a planner for review and a possible field inspection. The planner will prepare a staff report for Planning Commission review at a public hearing. After hearing comments from you, the public and staff the Planning Commission will approve or deny your request. If approved it will move on to the City Council for approval.
HOW WILL THE DECISION BE MADE?
The Planning Commission and City Council can only approve your request if ALL of the following can be found to be true:
- Conditions on the property causing a hardship are not common to all or most properties in the immediate area and zoning district; AND
- A hardship exists because of the conditions on the property and not by an act of an owner of the property; AND
- A Variance is needed to provide the same property rights enjoyed by other properties in the area with the same zoning. Granting a Variance may not give special privileges to the property; AND
- Granting a Variance will not create a problem for adjacent properties and will not conflict with public interests, the Zoning Code or the General Plan.
Hardship does not include situations such as personal, family or financial difficulties or loss of profits.
WHAT MIGHT PREVENT YOUR APPLICATION FROM BEING APPROVED?
A Variance will not be granted if the conditions on the property are not unique. Nor will it be granted if you cannot show that all the above requirements have been met.
CAN A PLANNING COMMISSION DECISION BE APPEALED?
Planning Commission decisions can be appealed to the City Council, but must be filed within 10 working days of the Planning Commission decision. An appeal application form is available in the City Manager’s Office. Please check with staff for more information.
WHEN DOES A VARIANCE EXPIRE?
A Variance is usually valid as long as it is used within one year. If you can’t use the Variance within that first year, you may be able to extend it for another year. To do so, you will need to submit an application for Extension before the Variance expires.
The Extension may be approved if the conditions of the property and the surrounding area are the same as when the Variance was approved. Once in use, the Variance is permanent and remains in effect as long as its conditions continue to be met.
WHEN CAN YOU REAPPLY FOR A VARIANCE?
If your application is denied or revoked, you may not apply for the same or a similar Variance for one year. However, if you can show that there has been a change in the property or neighboring area that would greatly affect the reasons for the denial, you may be able to reapply sooner.
WHAT OTHER ACTIONS ARE REQUIRED?
If new construction or exterior remodeling is involved, you will need a Building Permit. (Please see a copy of the Building Permit Brochure.) Commercial and multi-family construction will also require Design Review approval. A brochure explaining the
Design Review process is also available at the front counter.