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(A) Intent. Zoning variances (sometimes referred to as variations) are intended as a way to provide relief from practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships resulting from strict application of zoning ordinance requirements.
(B) Applicability; authorized variances. The Planning and Zoning Commission is authorized to grant a variance to any regulation in this zoning ordinance in accordance with the variance procedures of this section, except that the variance procedures may not be used to:
(1) Permit a principal use in a zoning district that is not otherwise allowed in that zoning district (i.e., "use variances" are prohibited);
(2) Waive, modify or amend any definition or use classification;
(3) Waive, modify or otherwise vary any of the review and approval procedures;
(4) Waive, vary, modify or otherwise override a condition of approval or requirement imposed by an authorized decision-making body or the state or federal government; or
(5) Waive, vary or modify applicable "minimum lot area per unit" (density) standards (Note: this provision is not intended to prohibit variances of minimum lot area requirements for individual lots).
(C) Authority to file. Variance applications may be filed by any person, firm, or corporation having a freehold interest, a possessory interest entitled to exclusive possession, or any exclusive possessory interest that is specifically enforceable on the property that is the subject of the proposed variance. Applications may be filed by the property owner (described above) or by the owner's authorized agent.
(D) Application filing. Complete applications for variances must be filed with the Zoning Administrator. A separate application must be made for each noncontiguous parcel of land.
(E) Notice to Soil and Water Conservation District. Applicants requesting a proposed zoning variance must furnish a copy of the application to the Will/South Cook Soil and Water Conservation District. No hearing may proceed on the variance until the Soil and Water Conservation District has submitted a written opinion on the application to the Planning and Zoning Commission or until at least 30 days have passed from the date of receipt of the application by the Soil and Water Conservation District, whichever occurs first.
(F) Notice of hearing.
(1) Newspaper notice. Notice of the Planning and Zoning Commission's required public hearing on a variance must be published in the newspaper in accordance with § 155-16.10(D)(3).
(2) Delivered notice. Notice of the Planning and Zoning Commission's required public hearing must be delivered to the subject property owner and all owners of property abutting the subject parcel, in accordance with § 155-16.10(D)(3). Notice must also be delivered to the clerk of each municipality whose corporate limits are within one and one-half miles of the land that is the subject of the special use permit application.
(3) Posted notice. Notice of the Planning and Zoning Commission's required public hearing must be posted on the subject property in accordance with § 155-16.10(D)(3).
(G) Hearing and final decision—Planning and Zoning Commission.
(1) The Planning and Zoning Commission must hold a public hearing to consider the variance request.
(2) Following the close of the hearing, the Planning and Zoning Commission must make its findings of fact and act to approve the requested variance, approve the variance with modifications and/or conditions, or deny the variance request based on the standards and review criteria of division (I) of this section.
(3) Approval of a variance requires an affirmative vote of at least four members of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
(1) If a variance is not approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission, the applicant may appeal the decision to the County Board by filing a written appeal with the Zoning Administrator. The appeal must be filed within 15 days of the Planning and Zoning Commission decision.
(2) Upon receipt of a complete appeal application, the Zoning Administrator must forward the appeal to the County Board.
(3) The County Board may overturn the decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission (i.e., approve the variance) only if approved by at least a three-fourths majority vote of the entire County Board.
(4) Every variance decision must be based on the standards and review criteria of division (I) of this section and be accompanied by written findings of fact.
(5) Any decisions of the Planning and Zoning Commission not appealed to the County Board within 15 days of the date of the Planning and Zoning Commission decision will be considered a final administrative determination and will be subject to judicial review only in accordance with applicable Illinois Statutes.
(I) Standards and review criteria.
(1) No variance may be approved unless the Planning and Zoning Commission makes both of the following findings based upon the evidence presented:
(a) That the plight of the owner is due to unique circumstances; and
(b) That the variance, if granted, will not alter the essential character of the locality.
(2) For the purpose of supplementing the two preceding standards for approval, the Planning and Zoning Commission, must also weigh and consider the extent to which the following facts, favorable to the applicant, have been established by the evidence presented:
(a) That the particular physical surroundings, shape, or topographical conditions of the subject property results in a particular hardship upon the owner, as distinguished from a mere inconvenience, if the strict letter of the regulations were to be carried out;
(b) That the conditions upon which the variance application is based would not be applicable generally to other property within the same zoning classification;
(c) That the purpose of the variance is not based exclusively upon a desire to make more money out of the property;
(d) That the alleged difficulty or hardship was not created by any person presently having an interest in the property;
(e) That the granting of the variance will not be detrimental to the public welfare or unduly injurious to other property or improvements in the neighborhood in which the property is located; and
(f) That the proposed variance will not impair an adequate supply of air to adjacent property, or substantially increase the danger of fire, or otherwise endanger the public safety, or substantially diminish or impair property values within the neighborhood.
(J) Transferability. Approved variances run with the land and are not affected by changes of tenancy, ownership, or management.
(K) Amendments. A request for changes in conditions of approval of variance must be processed as a variance application, including the requirements for fees and notices.
(L) Lapse of approval.
(1) An approved variance will lapse and have no further effect one year after it is approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission, unless:
(a) A building permit has been issued (if required); or
(b) The use or structure has been lawfully established.
(2) The Planning and Zoning Commission is authorized to extend the expiration period for good cause on up to two separate occasions, by up to 180 days each. Requests for extensions must be submitted to the Zoning Administrator before the variance expires. No hearings, notices or fees are required for extensions.
(3) A variance also lapses upon revocation of a building permit for violations of conditions of approval or upon expiration of a building permit to carry out the work authorized by the variance.
(M) Wireless telecommunications facilities. Variances involving wireless telecommunications facilities must be processed in accordance with the variance procedures, as set forth in divisions (A) through (L) of this section, except as expressly stated in this section.
(1) Application contents. Applications must include or be accompanied by at least the following information:
(a) The legal description and address (if available) of the premises;
(b) The variance sought;
(c) The present and proposed land use;
(d) The present zoning classification;
(e) The surrounding zoning classifications;
(f) The names and addresses of owners of petitioned property;
(g) An explanation of the need for the variance;
(h) A site plan of one inch = 20 feet, which shows all existing and proposed buildings and structures on the site;
(i) A copy of such site plan at reproducible size not to exceed 11 x 17 inches; and
(j) The location of and distance to surrounding communication towers and antennas within 0.25 miles of the proposed tower or within the carrier's search ring.
(2) Public hearing notice. Regardless of any other provision in these regulations to the contrary, notice of the hearing is only required to be published in the newspaper, in accordance with § 155-16.10(D)(3).
(3) Action by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
(a) The Planning and Zoning Commission may conduct no more than one public hearing to consider the application.
(b) The Planning and Zoning Commission must review the application, the report of the Zoning Administrator and the public hearing testimony, and send its findings of fact and recommendation to the County Board recommending approval or denial of the wireless telecommunications facility variance. The Planning and Zoning Commission's action must occur within a time-frame that allows the County Board to make its final decision within 75 days after submission of a complete application, as required by statute.
(4) Action of the County Board.
(a) The County Board must review the record before the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation and findings and grant or deny the variance by a simple majority vote of the County Board members present at the meeting.
(b) The County Board must make its final decision no later than 75 days after submission of a complete application. If the County Board fails to act on the application within 75 days after submission of a complete application, the applicant is deemed approved.
(c) All decisions by the County Board must be supported by written findings of fact.
(5) Standards and review criteria. In making their required findings and making recommendations and decisions, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the County Board must consider the following factors and no other matters:
(a) Whether, but for the granting of a variance the service that the telecommunications carrier seeks to enhance or provide with the proposed facility will be less available, impaired or diminished in quality, quantity, or scope of coverage;
(b) Whether the conditions upon which the application for variances is based are unique in some respect or, if not, whether the strict application of the regulations would result in a hardship on the telecommunications carrier;
(c) Whether a substantial adverse effect on public safety will result from some aspect of the facility's design or proposed construction, but only if that aspect of the design or construction is modifiable by the applicant;
(d) Whether there are benefits to be derived by the users of the services to be provided or enhanced by the facility and whether public safety and emergency response capabilities would benefit by the establishment of the facility; and
(e) The extent to which the design of the proposed facility reflects compliance with these regulations.
(Ord. effective 10-1-2012; Ord. 18-1, passed 1-18-2018)