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(a) Written request. An applicant may request in writing a variance from this Chapter or any regulation adopted under it if the applicant shows that enforcement would result in unwarranted hardship. A request for a variance suspends the time requirements in Section 22A-11 until the Planning Board or Planning Director acts on the request.
(b) Application requirements. An applicant for a variance must:
(1) describe the special conditions peculiar to the property or other conditions which would cause the unwarranted hardship;
(2) describe how enforcement of this Chapter will deprive the landowner of rights commonly enjoyed by others in similar areas;
(3) verify that State water quality standards will not be violated and that a measurable degradation in water quality will not occur as a result of granting the variance; and
(4) provide any other information appropriate to support the request.
(c) Referral to other agencies.
(1) The Planning Director must send a copy of each variance request related to Section 22A-12(b)(3)(A) or (B) to the County Arborist and any other appropriate agency for a written recommendation before the Board acts on the request.
(2) The Planning Director may send a copy of each variance request related to Section 22A-12(b)(3)(C) to the County Arborist and any other appropriate agency for a written recommendation before the Board acts on the request.
(3) If a recommendation on the variance is not submitted to the Planning Board, or Planning Director, as appropriate, within 10 days after the referral, the recommendation must be presumed to be favorable.
(d) Minimum criteria. A variance may only be granted if it meets the criteria in subsection (a). However, a variance must not be granted if granting the request:
(1) will confer on the applicant a special privilege that would be denied to other applicants;
(2) is based on conditions or circumstances which result from the actions by the applicant;
(3) is based on a condition relating to land or building use, either permitted or nonconforming, on a neighboring property; or
(4) will violate State water quality standards or cause measurable degradation in water quality.
(e) Approval procedures; Conditions. The Planning Board must find that the applicant has met all requirements of this Section before granting a variance. However, the Planning Director may grant a variance if the Director is authorized to approve the forest conservation plan and the applicant meets all requirements of this Section. The Board or Director may impose appropriate conditions to promote the objectives of this Chapter and protect the public interest.
(f) Notice to State Department of Natural Resources; Right to initiate or intervene in proceedings.
(1) Notice of a pending variance request must be given to the Department of Natural Resources within 15 days of receipt of a request for a variance.
(2) The Department of Natural Resources may initiate or intervene in an administrative, judicial or other original proceeding or appeal in the State concerning an approval of a variance. (1992 L.M.C., ch. 4, § 1; 2010 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1; 2010 L.M.C., ch. 55, § 1; 2017 L.M.C., ch. 34, §1; 2021 L.M.C., ch. 1, §1.)
Editor’s note—2010 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 2, states in part: Applicability. (b) Any amendment to County Code Chapter 22A made by Section 1 of this Act applies to any enforcement action that begins after this Act takes effect even if the alleged violation on which the enforcement action is based was committed before this Act took effect.