(a)   Appeals Board Established.
      (1)    Pursuant to Section 141.01, the Mayor of the City of Findlay shall appoint, and City Council shall approve an Appeals Board, which is hereby designated to be the City Planning Commission. They Mayor shall be the Chair of the Planning Commission. The members shall serve six year terms, after which time they shall be reappointed or replaced, upon the Mayor's nomination, by act of City Council. Each member shall serve until his/her successor is appointed and sworn.
      (2)    Regularly scheduled meeting agenda for the City Planning Commission shall include appeals of floodplain administration action, as necessary. All meetings of the City Planning Commission are public, pursuant to Section 149.44 of the Ohio Revised Code, except for executive session permitted under the statute. The City Planning Commission shall keep a record of any appeals pursuant to this Section, and shall keep a record of all official actions decided upon under this Section. Records of all appeals pursuant to this Section shall be kept in the minutes of the City Planning Commission, and in the Mayor's office, with the City Clerk as Repositor.
   (b)   Powers and Duties.
      (1)    The City Planning Commission shall hear and decide appeals where it is alleged that the City Floodplain Administrator has made an error in any order, requirement, decision, or determination in the administration or enforcement of this chapter.
      (2)    The City Planning Commission is hereby granted the authority to grant variances pursuant to subsection (d)(1)D. hereof.
   (c)   Appeals.
      (1)    Any person affected by any notice, order, or other official act of the Floodplain Administrator may request and shall be granted a hearing on the matter before the Planning Commission, provided that the appellant file, within 15 days after the date of such notice, order, or other official act, notice of an appeal.
      (2)    The appeal notice shall contain a brief statement, in writing, of the grounds for the appeal, or for the mitigation of any item appearing on any order, decision, determination, or other act of the Floodplain Administrator. The appellant must sign the notice of appeal, and file it with the Floodplain Administrator.
      (3)    When the Floodplain Administrator receives any such notice of appeal, he/she shall forward the notice and any other pertinent information to the Planning Commission four weeks in advance of its next regularly scheduled meeting.
      (4)    The City Planning Commission shall place the issue of the appeal on the agenda of the next available regularly scheduled meeting.
   (d)   Variances.
      (1)    Any person who has reason to believe that the use and development standards contained in this chapter would, if applied, result in undue hardship, and may file an application for a variance. The City Planning Commission shall have the power to authorize, in specific cases, such variances from the standards of this chapter, not inconsistent with federal regulations, and which will not be contrary to the public interest. Such variances will be appropriate when, owing to special conditions of the lot or parcel, a literal enforcement of the provisions of this chapter would result in undue hardship. The Planning Commission may choose to place any condition it deems appropriate on any variance that the Commission grants.
         A.   Variance application.
            1.    Any person who is the owner of a parcel of real property, or the authorized agent of such owner, for which a variance is sought, shall apply for the variance by filing it with the Floodplain Administrator, who shall forward it to the City Planning Commission.
            2.    The application shall contain, at minimum, the following: owner's name; name of authorized agent, if any; owner's address and telephone number; legal description of the parcel[s] for which variance is sought; parcel map; description of the use at the time of application; description of proposed use; location of the floodplain; description of the variance sought; the reason for the variance request.
         B.   Notice of public hearing.
         The Planning Commission shall schedule and hold a public hearing on the variance request at the Commission's next regularly scheduled meeting after the request is filed. Before the hearing takes place, a notice of the hearing shall be made in the way that all City Boards, Commissions, Committees and Council advertise their public meetings, pursuant to Section 149.44 of the Ohio Revised Code.
         C.   Public hearing.
            1.    At the public hearing at which the Planning Committee considers the variance request, the applicant shall present such statements and other evidence, as the Planning Commission requires.
               a.    The Commission shall consider and then make findings of fact on all evidence, all relevant factors, the provisions of this chapter, and the following:
                   i.    The danger that materials may be swept onto other lands to the injury of others.
                  ii.    The danger to life and property due to flooding or erosion damage.
                   iii.    The susceptibility of the proposed facility and its contents to flood damage and the effect of such damage to the individual owner.
                  iv.    The importance of the services provided by the proposed facility to the community.
                  v.    The availability of alternative locations for the proposed use that are not subject to flooding or erosion damage.
                  vi.    The necessity to the facility of a waterfront location, where applicable.
                  vii.    The compatibility of the proposed use with the existing and anticipated development.
                  viii.    The relationship of the proposed use to the comprehensive plan and floodplain management program for that area.
                  ix.    The safety of access to the property in times of floor for ordinary and emergency vehicles.
                  x.    The expected heights, velocity, duration, rate of rise, and sediment transport of the floodwaters and the effects of wave action, if applicable, expected at the site. The Appellant must supply this data.
                  xi.    The costs of providing governmental services during and after flood conditions, including the maintenance and repair of utilities and faculties, such as sewer, gas, electrical, water systems, streets and bridges.
                b.    A variance shall only be issued upon:
                  i.    A showing of good and sufficient cause.
                  ii.    A determination that not granting the variance would result in undue hardship because of the physical characteristics of the real property that is the subject of the variance request.
                  iii.    A determination that granting the variance would not result in increased flood heights beyond that which are allowed in this ordinance; or that the variance would not pose additional threat to public safety; or that granting the variance would not cause extraordinary public expense; or that the variance would not create a nuisance, fraud, or victimization of the public; or that that variance is not in conflict with existing City ordinances.
                  iv.    A determination that the structure or other development is protected by measures that minimize flood damage.
                  v.    A determination that the variance is the minimum necessary, considering the flood hazard, to afford relief.
                  vi.    Any other factors that the City Planning Commission deems appropriate.
               c.    After considering the factors described in subsection (d)(1) hereof, the City Planning Commission could attach any such conditions to the grant of a variance that the Commission deems necessary to further the purposes of this chapter.
         D.   Other conditions for variances.
            1.    Variances shall not be issued within any designated floodway if any increase in flood levels during the base flood discharge would result.
            2.    Generally, variances may be issued for new construction and substantial improvements on a lot of ½ acre or less in size, contiguous to and surrounded by lots with existing structures constructed below the base flood level, provided that the items listed at subsection (d)(1)C.1.a.i.-xi. have been fully considered. As a lot size increases beyond ½ acre, the technical justifications required for granting a variance increase.
            3.    Any applicant granted a variance shall be given notice of the variance in writing. The notice shall inform the applicant that the structure that is the subject of the variance may be built with a lowest floor elevation below the base flood elevation, and that the cost of flood insurance will be commensurate with the increased risk resulting from the reduced lowest floor elevation.
   (e)   Hearing Procedure.
      (1)    In general, the hearing shall be conducted in the manner in which the City Planning Commission meetings are typically conducted.
      (2)    All testimony shall be given under oath.
      (3)    Minutes of the proceedings shall be kept; except that, the deliberations of the Planning Commission shall be confidential to the limits permitted pursuant to Section 149.44 of the Ohio Revised Code. The record of the proceedings shall include all documentary evidence presented at the hearing and as part of the request for the variance. Testimonial evidence shall be taken; except that, the Appellant/Applicant may choose to request a Court Reporter or other verbatim recording of the hearing at the expense of the Appellant/Applicant.
      (4)    The Floodplain Administrator may present evidence or testimony concerning the appeal for a variance.
      (5)    Witnesses who present testimony shall be subject to cross-examination by the adverse party or his/her counsel and/or members of the Planning Commission.
      (6)    Evidence that is not admitted may be proffered, and shall be included with the record of the hearing.
      (7)    The City Planning Commission shall issue subpoena upon written request by the Appellant for particular witnesses. A reasonable deposit for issuing the subpoena shall be made at the time the subpoena request is made. The Planning Commission shall, in its discretion, establish a reasonable fee for service of subpoena and mileage. All such subpoenas are to be served by the Findlay Police Department.
      (8)    The City Planning Commission shall prepare conclusions of fact supporting its decision. The decision could be announced either at the conclusion of the hearing and thereafter given in writing; or the Commission could choose to issue its decision within a reasonable time, not later than the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Planning Commission, unless it determines that a longer period is necessary, in the interest of justice, to obtain relevant engineering or other data on which the Commission must base its decision.
   (f)   Appeal to Common Pleas Court. An applicant aggrieved by the City Planning Commission's decision may appeal that decision to the Hancock County Court of Common Pleas, pursuant to Chapters 2505 and 2506 of the Ohio Revised Code.
(Ord. 2006-067. Passed 9-5-06.)