§ 2.85.04  ZONING VARIANCES.
   (a)   Purpose.  Zoning variances provide a means to approve deviation from zoning requirements where practical difficulties exist because of conditions or circumstances unique to an individual property.  The purpose of this section is to establish the procedures for requesting and the requirements for issuing a zoning variance.
   (b)   Authority.  The City Council shall serve as the board of appeals and adjustments pursuant to the provisions of Minnesota Statutes, §§ 462.354, subd. 2; 462.357, subd. 6; and 462.359, subd. 4, as they may be amended from time to time.
   (c)   Where required.  Prior to any City approval of an application that does not meet the standards of Chapters 19 or 21 of the city code, the City Council must approve a zoning variance unless the city code provides an alternative means of deviation.
   (d)   Initiation.  A variance application must be initiated by the owner of land upon which a variance is proposed.  If originally denied, a variance application for the same item may not be resubmitted until one (1) year after the original denial.
   (e)   Review.  Zoning variances must be acted upon by the City Council.  The Planning Commission must hold a public hearing and offer a recommendation on all zoning variances except those that qualify for hearing examiner review under § 2.10 of the city code.
   (f)   Conditions of approval.  The City Council may impose conditions in the granting of a variance. A condition must be directly related to and must bear a rough proportionality to the impact created by the variance.
   (g)   Findings.
      (1)   Zoning variances may only be approved when:
         (A)   The variance is in harmony with the general purposes and intent of the ordinance;
         (B)   The variance is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan;
         (C)   The applicant for the variance establishes that there are practical difficulties in complying with the zoning ordinance. Economic considerations alone do not constitute practical difficulties;
         (D)   The property owner proposes to use the property in a reasonable manner not permitted by the zoning ordinance;
         (E)   The plight of the landowner is due to circumstances unique to the property not created by the landowner; and
         (F)   The variance if granted will not alter the essential character of the locality.
      (2)   Sign size variances may only be approved when:
         (A)   The sign will have an appearance which will not adversely affect or detract from neighboring property.
         (B)   The sign will be of such size that it will not deter or affect the motoring public on roads or highways adjacent to the placement of the sign.
         (C)   That, because of the topographic and physical conditions of the land, structures, or surrounding built-up area, strict enforcement of Chapter 19 or 21 of this code would deprive the applicant of the reasonable use of a sign for the purpose of identifying his or her business to the public.
      (3)   Sign placement variances may only be approved when:
         (A)   The placement of the sign will not be at a location which will have an adverse effect in appearance, height or location on neighboring properties.
         (B)   The placement of the sign will not be at a location which will adversely affect, deter or detract the motoring public on adjacent streets or highways.
         (C)   Strict compliance with the provision of Chapter 19 or 21 of this code relating to the placement of signs would deprive the applicant of the reasonable use of the sign for such land or building.
         (D)   That, because of the topographic or physical conditions relating to the land, structure, or surrounding built-up areas, strict enforcement of the placement of a sign under Chapter 19 or 21 of this code would result in depriving the applicant of a reasonable placement of the sign on the land or building consistent with the purpose of the sign.
      (4)   Variances in the number of signs allowed may only be approved when:
         (A)   The surface area of the multiple signs does not exceed the surface area for the permitted signs as set forth in Chapter 19 or 21.
         (B)   The multiple signs will have an appearance and location which will not adversely affect or detract from neighboring property.
         (C)   The multiple signs will be of such size and location that it will not deter or affect the motoring public on roads or highways adjacent to the placement of the signs.
         (D)   That, because of the topographic and physical conditions of the land, structures, or surrounding built-up area, strict enforcement of Chapter 19 or 21 of this code would deprive the applicant of the reasonable use of signs for the purpose of identifying his or her business to the public.
      (5)   Variances in the duration of temporary signs may only be approved when:
         (A)   The additional duration of display of the temporary sign will not unreasonably effect or detract from neighboring property.
         (B)   The additional duration of display of the temporary sign will not adversely effect, deter or distract the motoring public on adjacent streets or highways.
   (h)   Recording.  A certified copy of the resolution approving a zoning variance must be recorded with the county.
   (i)   Expiration.  See § 19.23.01 of the city code.
   (j)   Use variance prohibited.  No variance may be granted that would allow any use that is not allowed in the zoning district in which the subject property is located.
   (k)   Content.  Zoning variance applications must include the following information, unless exempted by the Planning Manager:
      (1)   An application form and the signed consent of the property owner(s) or authorized representative.
      (2)   The required application fee (see city code § 21.502.01).
      (3)   Written documentation that includes:
         (A)   A complete project description;
         (B)   Specific provisions of the Zoning Code involved and the variance request details; and
         (C)   Why and how the request meets each of the variance findings in subsection (g) above.
      (4)   Scaled floor plan, site plan, and building elevations (where applicable).
      (5)   Certified survey showing the existing conditions on the property (if setback related).
   (l)   Notice.  In addition to the notice requirements set forward in city code § 21.502.01, if the application pertains to a variance within the Floodplain District, notice shall also be given to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at least ten days prior to the date of the hearing.
(Ord. 2017-15, passed 5-22-2017)