The Seminole County Board of Adjustment (BOA) is a group consisting of five (5) regular members and two (2) alternate members, all of which are appointed by the Seminole County Board of County Commissioners (BCC). It is empowered to hear and decide VARIANCES.
What is a Variance: A variance is a waiver from the requirements of the Land Development Code, where specific enforcement would result in unnecessary hardship. The variance requested should be the minimum variance that would make possible the reasonable use of the land, building or structure. Seeking a variance is asking for something special that goes beyond the established limits or restrictions of the Seminole Coutny Land Development Code.
What is a Hardship: If some special circumstance makes it very difficult for a particular project to meet the Land Development Code a hardship may be established. A hardship generally occurs when the physical characteristics of a property are such that it cannot be used for any purpose permitted by County Codes. A hardship may be created by the surroundings, shape or topographical conditions particular to that specific property. However, the hardship cannot be self-imposed, or the result of the property owner’s own action.
What is a Setback: A setback is a standard established by zoning district or other regulation that states how far from a property line certain types of structures must be placed. Setbacks are established for a particular yard or use in a yard: for example, a side yard setback which establishes the location of the side of a house, a rear yard setback that locates where you would place a shed, or a setback that locates where you might put a pool.
SUMMARY OF THE PROCESS AND REQUIREMENTS FOR A VARIANCE
1. APPLICATION PROCEDURE:
Applicant decides to request a variance.
For example, you want to put a 200 square foot shed in your back yard and planned to put it 2 feet from your property line. When you come to the County to apply for your building permit you are informed that the required setback for your zoning district is 10 feet for a shed that size. You evaluate your options, for example: 1) you could move it somewhere else in your yard outside the 10 foot setback and would not need to wait for a variance hearing to complete the project; or, 2) due to some condition in the yard, for example large trees, the shed cannot be relocated so you would still need to seek a variance to put the shed within the 10 foot setback.
Please feel free to make an appointment with the Planning & Development Division staff to discuss your application by calling 407-665-7444.
Variance Application (PDF)
Link to required forms:
Owners Disclosure Form
Owners Authorization Form (if needed)
Applications are also available from the Planning Division located at:
County Services Building
1101 East First Street
Sanford, FL 32771
2. APPLICATION DEADLINE:
Applicant submits a complete application for variance prior to application deadline.
Please review the calendar link for deadline schedule.
Board of Adjustment Calendar
ALL SUBMITTALS MUST BE RECEIVED, ALONG WITH APPROPRIATE FEES, BY 5:00 PM ON THE DEADLINE DATES.
- After receipt of a complete application, your variance request will be scheduled for the next available Board of Adjustment meeting.
- If an application is found to be incomplete, staff will contact the applicant and request revisions or additional information. Please note that an incomplete application may cause your request to be scheduled for the following hearing.
4. PUBLIC NOTIFICATION:
Planning & Development Division will provide public notice to affected homeowners.
- No less than ten (10) days before the Board of Adjustment meeting, the Planning Division staff will mail a letter of notification to abutting owners.
- The Planning & Development Division staff will also prepare an 11” x 17” public notice placard for posting on the subject property. The applicant must post their property at least fifteen (15) days in advance of the Board of Adjustment meeting.
- The applicant will pick up and post the placard in a conspicuous location on the property where it shall remain until final action has occurred on the request. Maintenance of the placard shall be the responsibility of the applicant. THE NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING IS MANDATORY; THE PROPERTY MUST BE POSTED. Failure to comply may result in a minimum delay of thirty (30) days with additional costs for advertising.
- The applicant must return a notarized affidavit certifying the posting of the placard. This must be submitted to the Planning & Development Division prior to the Board of Adjustment meeting.
- The Planning & Development Division staff also prepares a legal advertisement for publication in the Orlando Sentinel which is published at least ten (10) days in advance of the Board of Adjustment meeting
THE BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT CANNOT CONSIDER AN APPLICATION UNLESS ALL PUBLIC NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS HAVE BEEN COMPLETED.
Staff will prepare a written staff report and recommendation.
- The Planning & Development Division staff prepares a written staff report for consideration by the Board of Adjustment. The report presents factual information concerning the applicant’s request based on existing circumstances, consistency with the comprehensive plan and land development code: future & existing land use, zoning, traffic & environmental impacts, public services availability, etc.
- The meeting agenda along with the staff report is available online approximately one week before the Board of Adjustment meeting. A Copy will also be sent to the applicant
6. BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT REGULAR MEETING:
The Board of Adjustment will conduct a public hearing.
- The Board of Adjustment meets on the fourth Monday of each month except in May and December, where the regular meetings occur on the third Monday. The Board meets in the Board Chambers (Room 1028) at 6:00 p.m. (unless otherwise noted) on the first floor of the Seminole County Services Building, located at 1101 East First Street in downtown Sanford, FL.
- An authorized representative or the applicant must appear at the public hearing in order to present the application. The representative should be familiar with the request and be able to make statements and commitments on behalf of the applicant.
Presentations should be brief and include information such as impacts to adjacent properties, visibilty from streets and other properties, and design information.
- Following the presentation by the Planning & Development Division staff, the presentation by the applicant, and public comment, the Board of Adjustment will discuss and vote to decide the outcome of the request for a variance. The Board may approve, deny or continue a request. A continuance is generally requested for reasons such as addtional information.
- After the hearing, the applicant will receive a letter stating the decision of the Board with information regarding the date within which the decision can be appealed by either the Applicant or another agrieved party. The appeal period is 15 days, see below #8 for futher information.
A short video clip of a Board of Adjustment hearing is available online. This shows a typical presentation by an applicant; it is recommended that you review this before you come to the meeting.
7. TIME LIMIT:
Variances typically have no time limit.
Variances have no time limit unless a time limit is imposed as a condition of approval.
An applicant, or any agrieved party, may appeal a decision of the board of adjustment to the Board of County Commissioners.
- Any aggrieved party can appeal a Board of Adjustment decision within fifteen (15) calendar days of the meeting. A letter must be submitted to the Planning & Development Division stating the grounds for appeal along with the appropriate fee.
- The Seminole County Board of Commissioners will hear and decide the case. During the fifteen (15) day appeal period, no permits incorporating the decision of the Board of Adjustment will be issue.
9. VARIANCE CRITERIA:
Variance definition: As used in connection with the provisions of this act dealing with zoning, a variance is a relaxation of the terms of the zoning ordinance where such variance will not be contrary to the public interest and where, owing to conditions peculiar to the property and not the result of the actions of the applicant, a literal enforcement of the ordinance would result in unnecessary and undue hardship. As used in this act a variance is authorized only for height, area, and size of structure, or size of yards and open spaces. Establishment or expansion of a use otherwise prohibited shall not be allowed by variance, nor shall a variance be granted because of the presence of nonconformities in the zoning district or classification or adjoining zoning districts or classifications.
(Seminole County Land Development Code Ch. 2 Sec 2.3)
To grant variances due to special conditions, where a literal enforcement Chapter 30 of the Seminole County Land Development Code will result in unnecessary and undue hardship, the Board of Adjustment must first determine:
- there is a special condition and circumstance that exists that does not apply to most, similar properties in the same zoning district;
- the granting of the variance would not result in any special privilege that is denied to other lands, buildings, or structures in the same zoning district;
- the special condition and circumstance does not result from the actions of the applicant;
- the special condition and circumstance causes some hardship or practical difficulty if the variance is not granted;
- without the variance, the subject will be denied a right enjoyed by owners of similar property;
- the variance is the minimum variance that would make possible the reasonable use of the land, building or structure;
- the variance won't harm the neighbors;
- the variance is in harmony with the the general intent of the SCLDC Chapter 30.