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(a) After being denied a zoning certificate by the Zoning Inspector, any person owning or having an interest in property may file an application to obtain a variance. An application for a zoning variance shall be filed in triplicate with the Zoning Inspector on a form as specified for that purpose. The Zoning Inspector shall forward a copy to the Planning Commission within ten days of said filing.
(b) The application for a zoning variance shall contain the following information:
(1) Name, address and phone number of the applicant.
(2) Legal description of property as recorded in Geauga County Recorder’s Office.
(3) The specific provisions of the Zoning Code which apply.
(4) The use for which the variance is sought.
(5) Details of the variance for which application is made and the grounds on which it is claimed that the variance should be granted.
(6) The specific reasons why the applicant believes the variance is justified.
(7) The names and addresses of all property owners within 200 feet, contiguous to and directly across the street from the property, as appearing on the Geauga County Auditor’s current tax list.
(c) The Planning Commission shall have the power to authorize only those variances from the provisions or requirements of the Zoning Code as will not be contrary to the public interest, but only in the case of exceptional conditions, involving irregular, narrow, shallow or steep lots, or other exceptional physical conditions, whereby strict application of such provision or requirements would result in practical difficulty and unnecessary hardship that would deprive the owner of the reasonable use of the land and buildings involved, but in no other case.
(d) Subject to the limitation specified by subsection (e) hereof, no variance from the strict application of any provision of the Zoning Code shall be granted by the Planning Commission unless it finds that all the following facts and conditions exist:
(1) That there are unique physical circumstances or conditions, including irregularity, narrowness or shallowness of lot size or shape, or exceptional topographical or other physical conditions generally created by the provisions of the Zoning Code in the neighborhood or district in which the property is located.
(2) That because of such physical circumstances or conditions, there is no possibility that the property can be developed in strict conformity with the provisions of the Zoning Code and that the authorization of a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property.
(3) That such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the applicant.
(4) That the variance, if authorized, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood or district in which the property is located, nor substantially or permanently impair the appropriate use or development of adjacent property, nor be detrimental to the public welfare.
(5) That the variance, if authorized, will represent the minimum variance that will afford relief and will represent the least modification possible of the regulation in issue.
(e) In the specific case of an application for an “area variance” from the provisions or requirements of the Zoning Code only if the Planning Commission determines that “practical difficulties” exist, after considering and evaluating the following factors:
(1) Whether the property in question will yield a reasonable return or whether there can be any beneficial use of the property without the variance.
(2) Whether the variance is substantial.
(3) Whether the essential character of the neighborhood would be substantially altered or whether adjoining properties would suffer a substantial detriment as a result of the variance.
(4) Whether the variance would adversely affect the delivery of governmental services.
(5) Whether the property owner purchased the property with knowledge of the zoning restriction.
(6) Whether the property owner’s predicament feasibly can be obviated through some method other than a variance.
(7) Whether the spirit and intent behind the zoning requirements would be observed and substantial justice done by granting the variance.
(f) The Planning Commission shall act by motion and the concurring vote of three members of the Planning Commission shall be necessary to grant any variance from the requirements stipulated in the Zoning Ordinance.
(Ord. 13-150. Passed 1-9-14.)