The Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA)is an 5-member board representing the zoned areas of Dare County. Members are appointed by the Dare County Board of Commissioners to hear appeals and act on variance requests.
The powers and duties of the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) include:
Appeals The ZBA shall hear and decide appeals from and review any order, requirement, decision or determination made by the Dare County Zoning Administrator/Planning Director. Any person aggrieved, or any Officer, Department or Board of the County may make an appeal. The Board may affirm or reverse, in whole or in part, or may modify the order or decision being appealed, and shall make any order or decision necessary.
Variances When practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships would result from carrying out the strict letter of the Dare County Zoning Ordinance, the ZBA may vary or modify any provision of the Zoning Ordinance so that the spirit of the Ordinance is observed, public safety and welfare secured, and substantial justice done.
Most people assume that a variance is easily obtained simply by asking, which is incorrect. Variances are very complicated legal proceedings with specific voting rules and procedures. Variances are designed to address peculiarities of an individual site or a feature that "runs with the land" such as a hillside that prevents compliance with the applicable setbacks. A variance is not granted to someone who wishes to construct a larger deck than what will fit the setbacks of his/her lot or to someone who wishes to exceed the building height limitations for a better view of the ocean. The following conditions must apply, according to North Carolina General Statutes, before any Zoning Board can grant a variance, including:
- That special conditions and circumstances exist which are peculiar to the land, structure, or building involved and which are not applicable to other lands, structures, or buildings in the same district.
- That literal interpretation of the provisions of this chapter would deprive the applicant of rights commonly enjoyed by other properties in the same district under the terms of this chapter.
- That the special conditions and circumstances do not result from the actions of the applicant.
- That granting the variance requested will not confer on the applicant any special privilege that is denied by this chapter to other lands, structures or buildings in the same district.
A motion to grant a variance, according to the Dare County Zoning Ordinance, must pass with a four-fifths majority vote of the ZBA members. If a motion to grant a variance does not generate the required four-fifths vote, then the motion fails and a variance is not granted.