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(1) Composition. A Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) shall consist of five members who are residents of the county, and shall be appointed by the Circuit Court of the county. The BZA shall serve without pay other than for usual expenses associated with membership. Members shall be removable for cause upon written charges and after a public hearing. Appointments for vacancies occurring otherwise than by expiration of term shall in all cases be for the unexpired term.
(2) Term of office. The term of office shall be for five years; except that the initial members shall be appointed for terms of one, two, three, four, and five years. One of the five members may be an active member of the County Planning Commission. Vacancies occurring in the BZA shall be filled for the unexpired term only.
(3) Disqualification. BZA members shall disqualify themselves from participating in any way upon a matter before the Board in which his or her financial interests or those of his or her immediate family are directly involved.
(4) Officers. The BZA shall elect annually its own Chair and Vice-Chair who shall act in the absence of the Chair. Through its Chair, the BZA may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses.
(B) Powers. Pursuant to the authority granted by the VA Code § 15.2-2309 and the processing path described in § 157.060(B)(4), the BZA shall have the following powers.
(2) Grant variances. The BZA shall authorize upon appeal and application in specific cases such variances from the terms of §§ 157.035 through 157.047 as will not be contrary to the public interest, when owing to special conditions, a literal enforcement of the provisions will result in unnecessary hardship; provided, that the spirit of this chapter shall be observed and substantial justice done in accordance with the provisions of §§ 157.035 through 157.047 and this section.
(C) Duties. The BZA shall perform the following duties as are necessary to ensure the proper, accurate, and timely disposition of all matters brought before it.
(1) Institute operational procedures. The BZA shall institute operational procedures in order to:
(a) Make, alter, and rescind rules and forms for its procedures, consistent with the ordinances of this county and the general laws of the state;
(b) Prescribe procedures for the conduct of public hearings that it is required to hold; and
(c) Keep minutes of its proceedings showing the vote of each member upon each question, or if absent or failing to vote, indicating such fact. The BZA shall keep records of its examinations and other official actions, all of which shall be immediately filed in the office of the Land Use Administrator and shall become public records.
(2) Other. The BZA shall:
(a) Employ or contract for secretaries, clerks, legal counsel, consultants, and other technical and clerical support services as deemed necessary and within the limits of funds appropriated by the Board of Supervisors; and
(b) Perform any additional activities as set forth in this subchapter.
(D) Guiding principles. In fulfilling the purposes and intent of this chapter as set forth in §§ 157.001 through 157.008, the BZA in exercising the powers and duties granted and imposed by this section, shall be guided by the following standards which shall be in addition to any other standards imposed by this chapter:
(1) The use shall be in harmony with the policies embodied in the adopted Comprehensive Plan;
(2) The agricultural character of the county shall be preserved by discouraging the inappropriate location of nonfarm uses in agricultural areas;
(3) The use shall be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the applicable zoning district regulations including those associated with properties located within a resource protection area (RPA); and
(4) The use shall not adversely affect the use or development of neighboring properties and be in accordance with all applicable zoning district regulations and any applicable provisions of the adopted Comprehensive Plan.
(E) Application for a variance. An application for a variance shall be filed with and on forms furnished by the Land Use Administrator and shall include such information as the Land Use Administrator shall require as necessary to enforce the provisions of this section. Applications for a variance shall be processed as described in § 157.060(B)(4).
(F) Findings necessary before the issuance of a variance. Variances may be granted by the BZA only after making specific findings of fact based on the evidence before it. These findings of fact are as follows:
(1) The property was acquired in good faith;
(2) On the effective date of this chapter, the property is: exceptionally narrow; exceptionally shallow; exceptional size; exceptionally shaped; or has exceptional topographic conditions or other extraordinary situation or condition of the use or development of property immediately adjacent to the subject property;
(3) The condition or situation of the subject property or the intended use of the property is not of so general or recurring a nature as to make reasonably practicable the formulation of a general regulation to be adopted by the Board of Supervisors as an amendment to this chapter;
(5) The strict application of §§ 157.035 through 157.047 would effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict all reasonable use of the property, and the granting of a variance will alleviate a clearly demonstrable hardship approaching confiscation as distinguished from a special privilege or convenience sought by the applicant; and
(6) Authorization of the variance will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property; the character of the zoning district will not be changed by the granting of the variance; and the variance will be in harmony with the intended purposes of this chapter and in keeping with the public interest.
(G) Variances not authorized. No variance shall be granted that would have the effect of:
(1) Increasing the density permitted in a zoning district;
(2) Permitting any use not specified in the zoning district in which the property is located; or
(3) Altering any definition set forth in this chapter.
(H) Conditions attached to variances.
(1) Any variance granted by the BZA shall be the minimum variance necessary to afford relief, and to this end, the BZA may permit a lesser variance than applied for. The BZA may also prescribe such conditions or restrictions applying to the approval of a variance as it may deem necessary in the specific case, in order to minimize the adverse effects of such variance, upon other property in the neighborhood. Such conditions or restrictions shall be incorporated into the certificate of compliance and the building permit.
(2) The BZA may require a performance guarantee to ensure that the conditions imposed are being and will continue to be complied with. Failure to comply with such conditions or restrictions shall constitute a violation of this chapter, and may constitute the basis for denial or revocation of a certificate of compliance, building permit, or certificate of occupancy.
(I) Lapse of variance. A variance granted under the provisions of this chapter shall automatically lapse if substantial construction, in accordance with the plans for which such variance was granted, has not been completed within one year from the date of granting such variance or, if judicial proceedings to review the BZA’s decision shall be instituted, from the date of entry of the final order in such proceedings, including all appeals.
(Ord. passed 11-9-1995; Ord. passed 12-13-2012)