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What to know about zoning variances

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2020 | Land Use and Zoning | 0 comments

It might seem like a current building project complies with all aspects of current Naples land use law except for one or two issues. Perhaps a water use project runs into environmental restrictions concerning lakes. A land use project may require fencing that is too high. In such cases, property owners have options to push their projects forward in spite of current restrictions.

Local governments may set aside current land use codes if a developer makes a compelling case for it. One way to do so is to secure a zoning variance that allows a project to proceed.

Defining zoning variances

As FindLaw explains, asking for a zoning variance details asking your local government to allow land use that does not comply with a current zoning ordinance. Usually, a government will grant the variance if the property owner shows that existing land use regulations make it challenging to use the property practically.

However, a variance does not abolish an existing zoning requirement. The fact that one property owner receives a zoning variance does not mean another developer can receive an identical variance under similar circumstances. In addition, variances are subject to certain approval processes like public hearings in which interested parties may object to the variance.

Applying for variances

Like many municipalities, Naples residents may submit petitions for zoning variances through the Collier County website. Property owners may seek variances for various projects, including the following:

  • Certain dock construction projects
  • Extending fence and wall heights
  • Changes in property yards
  • Minor after-the-fact yard encroachments
  • Lake excavation projects

Petitioning for a variance is a careful process. The Collier County government may deny a variance petition if a property owner does not properly fill out the petition or if the petition does not meet certain requirements for consideration. A property owner must also pay the required fees and prepare for a hearing that will determine whether the government will grant the variance.

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Collier County Bar Association
Lee County Bar Association
The Florida Bar 1950
United States District Court Northern District of California
Photo of attorneys Matthew R McConnell, Odelsa “Ody” Dickman and Andrew WJ Dickman