There are two types of variances from the Zoning Code that may be heard by the Board of Adjustment: Use Variances and Non-Use Variances. Rarely granted, a Use Variance allows the applicant to conduct a specific use on a particular property that is not otherwise permitted by the Zoning Code. Allowing a retail store to establish in a residential zoning district would be an example. An approved Non-Use Variance allows the applicant to build or modify a structure on their property that does not meet one or more of the numeric standards in the Zoning Code. Reducing the required distance between the building and the property line is a common example.
Additionally, the Board of Adjustment has the power to hear and decide appeals on a determination made by the City Planner in the enforcement of the Zoning Code.
For an illustration of the process see the Board of Adjustment Appeals Process Flowchart. You can also see the steps below to learn more about the Board of Adjustment Appeal process:
1. Pre-Application Conference
The first step in the variance (Board of Adjustment appeal) process is to meet with the City Planner to discuss the reason you would like to request a variance. Typically this meeting is scheduled within a week from the time you request it. The meeting usually allows 30 minutes to an hour to discuss the variance process and your specific request.
The purpose of this meeting is to determine the reasons your project does not meet the requirements of the Zoning Code and whether you are eligible to apply for a variance. At the meeting, staff will discuss your options with you, give you the appropriate application form and advise you of the fees and supporting materials or evidence that are required for submittal with the application. Depending on which type of variance is being sought (Use or Non-Use), different evidence will be needed. This is because the Board uses different criteria to evaluate either type. Click Here to see the criteria the Board uses in making their decisions.
At this time a staff planner will be assigned to the application. This person is your direct contact in the Department throughout the process.
Often a site map of the property is required as part of the application submittal. If you do not have a site map or a survey of your property, you may wish to request a map from the City. The request for a map can include an a basic site map including an aerial photograph, a land use map, a zoning map, or you may request a custom map to include elements that you choose, which may include the existing and surrounding conditions, zoning districts, parcel lines, topography, or other components. The fee for this map typically ranges from $10 to $50 depending on size and detail.
VIEW EXAMPLE OF AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH [Click Here]
FOR INFORMATION ON REQUESTING A MAP [Click Here]
To schedule a pre-application conference, contact Connie Maness at (314) 738-2230 or via e-mail.
2. Application Submittal
Subsequent to the pre-application conference, the applicant submits the required items (go to Submittal Requirements). The City Planner determines whether it is complete for purposes of conducting a public hearing. If the submittal is incomplete, the applicant has thirty days to re-submit or notify the City Planner of a pending re-submittal. Once the application has been deemed complete, a public hearing on the application will be scheduled.
3. Public Notification
In order to schedule a public hearing, proper public notification is required.
The City will produce a public notice which includes the date, time, and location of the public hearing, a location map identifying the site, the name and address of the applicant or their representative, and a description of the requested variance. This notice is to be used for both notification of surrounding property owners and publication in the newspaper. The City will publish the notice of public hearing in the newspaper. The City will also post a sign on the site and mail a notice to the surrounding property owners.
4. Public Hearing
The applicant is required to present the case before the Board at the hearing. The presentation by the applicant should address the criteria for a variance that is outlined in the burden of proof criteria. In presenting the application, the burden of proof shall rest with the applicant to clearly establish that the proposed variance meets the criteria.
5. City Planner Review and Findings
Upon closure of the public hearing, the City Planner’s report is presented to the Board. The City Planner’s report typically includes a description and summary of the existing site conditions; adjacent uses and zoning; neighborhood character analysis; and a discussion of the request's ability to meet the “burden of proof” criteria.
6. Board of Adjustment Action
The Board may approve the variance request or deny the variance request. If the Board denies the request, the applicant has the option of appealing to the Circuit Court of Saint Louis County within 30 days of the Board’s decision.
If the Board denies the application, a reapplication concerning the same property or site cannot be filed for 6 months following the date of the Boards decision. This waiting period may be waived by the City Planner if he determines that a significantly different plan is proposed or that new facts or other pertinent information have been discovered. The City Planner must be able to determine that any new facts or pertinent information discovered were not reasonably capable of being found by the applicant prior to the previous application.
8. Appeals Process
Any person aggrieved by any decision of the Board of Adjustment, may present a petition to the Circuit Court of Saint Louis County within 30 days of the decision of the board that the decision is illegal, specifying the grounds of the illegality in accordance with appropriate state statute.