The Village of Lawrence has extensive zoning laws to regulate the use of property and the extent of construction within the Village.
The Zoning Board of Appeals performs a variety of functions set forth in the New York State Village Law as well as the Lawrence Village Code (Chapter 6). Its primary purpose is to grant relief (in appropriate circumstances) to those residents desirous or in need of a variance from the law's restrictions and who wish to appeal the findings of the Building Inspector who enforces the zoning code.
Composed of five uncompensated Village residents, the Board of Zoning Appeals meets publicly as needed and allows the applicants as well as all interested parties to state their case before rendering a decision.
As noted variances are permission given by the Board of Zoning Appeals to an applicant which allows property to be used in a way otherwise prohibited.
There are two types of variances: Use and Area.
The use variance permits the use of the land for purposes otherwise not allowed. To prevail, the applicant must show the Board that the applicable zoning rules have caused "unnecessary hardship." To do so, the applicant must demonstrate that for every permitted use in the area where the property is situated:
The area variance allows the use of land in ways which are prohibited by dimensional or physical requirements of the zoning rules. State statute (Village Law Sec. 7-712-b(3)) provides the standards for granting the area variance:
In making its determination, the Zoning Board of Appeals shall take into consideration the benefit to the applicant if the variance is granted, as weighed against the detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood or community by such grant. In making such determination, the Board shall also consider:
Note that in granting either the use or area variance, the Board must grant the minimum variance it considers adequate and at the same time preserve and protect the character of the neighborhood and the health, safety and welfare of the community.
Decisions of the Board must be rendered within a specified time. The variance granted runs with the land and not the owner only if the construction is completed..
Thus, it is the responsibility of the Board of Zoning Appeals to balance the needs of the individual homeowner with the best interests of the entire community within the decisional framework set out in statute.
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