Sidebar Developers Guide to the Development Process-

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS (ZBA)

All which have implemented Zoning Regulations must also establish a Zoning Board of Appeals in Middletown this Board has jurisdiction over:

  1. appeals: where it has been charged that there is an error by the Building Inspector or the Zoning Enforcement Officer in the enforcement of the zoning regulations.
  2. application for variance from the terms of the regulations where, because of special conditions a literal enforcement of the ordinance would result in a practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship. This hardship should be peculiar to the specific application and the variance, if granted, should be in harmony with the comprehensive plan and not contrary to the public welfare.
  3. the location of motor vehicle dealers or repairer4s and gasoline stations.
The role of the ZBA is deemed quasi-judicial in nature and most of the cases pertain to variances. At no time is it within the scope of the ZBA's power to hear an appeal on a decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

APPLICATION FOR A VARIANCE

Development Option: You may have certain circumstances that makes it impossible for you to build according to the Zoning Code. If you situation meets all of the following criteria you may be able to receive a variance.

  1. Because conditions that effect your parcel do not generally affect the zone in which your parcel is located, a literal interpretation and enforcement of the law would cause substantial difficulty or undue hardship.
  2. This hardship cannot be an exclusively economic hardship and should be inherent in the land (ie., depth to bedrock, slope).
  3. The hardship must not be self imposed.
  4. The proposed use will not substantially harm the public health, safety or welfare.
  5. The variance that you request is in keeping with the intent or purpose of the comprehensive plan.
What is a variance and what is it's Purpose? A variance makes an exception to the Zoning Code due to conditions of unreasonable hardship. Variances exist to provide flexibility in the law. This flexibility is important to make provisions for uses which apply to the strict enforcement of the regulations but will pose no substantial harm to the overall public health, safety and welfare. There are two types of variances, the use variance and the bulk variance. The use variance allows for the variance of uses allowed and requirements in the particular zone.

What is Recommended: It is recommended that you consult with the City's Planning Staff prior to making a formal application for a variance. In Middletown the Zoning Board of Appeals can only grant bulk variances. This is because use variances tend to lead to the degradation of the Zoning Code. Therefore, in most cases the Planning Staff will recommend to you that you seek a zone change.

How long will it take? The Zoning Board of Appeals must provide adequate notice prior to the required public hearing (refer to flow chart) and then hold the hearing sixty-five (65) days from the day of receipt. A decision must come within sixty-five (65) days of the close of the hearing and the hearing is to conclude thirty (30) days after it commences. You and all other concerned parties have fifteen (15) day appeal period from the day the notice of the decision appeared in the newspaper.

What's Next? If the decision is a favorable one, you then should file the variance on the land variance on the land records and apply for a building permit. if it is not favorable, you may appeal the decision to the Superior Court.

APPLICATION FOR A MOTOR VEHICLE USE

Development Option: You wish to obtain a state motor vehicle license for a limited repairer, general repairer, used car dealer or new car dealer. you have checked and your site is properly zoned for the use and therefore you need location approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

What is Location Approval? Location approval is a mechanism which allows the local level to indicate to the State that the site is acceptable for the proposed use. The primary consideration are in regard to traffic, and the location's proximity to schools and churches.

What is required: What is required: Requirements for formal application are found in the Appendix.

What is Recommended: It is highly recommended that you consult with the Planning staff prior to making formal application. If the site has a previous location approval, you may not need to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

How long will it take? Time frames are the same as for a variance.

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