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(A) The county may grant a variance from any of the technical requirements included in this subchapter, if there are exceptional circumstances such that:
(1) Strict adherence to the provisions of this subchapter could result in unnecessary hardship or environmental degradation;
(2) The project is wholly in response to the regulatory requirements of another federal, state, or local law or consent order and is intended to result in impact mitigation or environmental enhancement;
(3) It can be proven that some action associated with the project will result in measurable environmental enhancement that can be equated to the estimated benefit which would have been achieved if the technical requirement that the applicant is requesting relief from would have been accomplished; or
(4) It can be proven that adherence to the technical requirement would not be necessary to fulfill the purpose of this subchapter.
(B) For any development within an incorporated municipality, the Mayor of that entity shall be notified within 15 days of receipt of a request for a variance.
(C) A written request for a variance shall be submitted to the county and shall state the specific variance sought and the reasons supporting the granting of that variance. A variance may not be granted unless and until sufficient specific reasons justifying the variance are provided to the county such that it is proven that the purpose of this subchapter will not thereby be compromised. An applicant for a variance shall:
(1) Describe the special conditions or exceptional circumstances peculiar to the property which would cause the undue hardship or that prevent the applicant from complying with this subchapter with on site or off site mitigation and any evidence that compliance would result in an environmentally degraded condition on or off site;
(2) Demonstrate in sufficient detail that the granting of the variance will not confer on the applicant a special privilege that would be denied to other applicants;
(3) Demonstrate in sufficient detail that the variance request is not based on conditions or circumstances which are the result of actions by the applicant;
(4) Demonstrate in sufficient detail that the request does not arise from a condition relating to land or building use, permitted or nonconforming, on a neighboring property; and
(5) Demonstrate in sufficient detail that the granting of a variance will not adversely affect water quality or result in an environmentally degraded condition on or off site.
(D) In granting a variance to this subchapter, the county shall issue specific written findings of fact that the applicant has met the requirements of division (C) above, and that the granting of the variance is designed in a manner consistent with the spirit and purpose of this subchapter.
(E) Notice of a request for a variance shall be given to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources within 15 days of receipt of a request for a variance. There is established by this subchapter the right and authority of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to initiate or intervene in an administrative, judicial or other original proceeding or appeal concerning an approval of a variance.
(2004 Code, § 115-14) (Ord. 98-4, passed 11-18-1998; Ord. 02-03, passed 3-14-2002; Ord. 03-04, passed 1-30-2003; Ord. 04-05, passed 4-1-2004)