Zoning Variances

A property owner may propose a project that cannot meet the dimensional standards (i.e. setbacks or impervious surface limits) of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) due to conditions specifically related to their property. Under certain circumstances the property owner can request a variance from the standards. However, variances are only granted when the property owner can demonstrate that the zoning regulations present a practical difficulty in making use of the property. (Section 151.056 of the UDO)

Variance request are heard before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), which is comprised of seven (7) members. The ZBA hearing is open to the public and neighboring property owners are notified that an applicant is requesting a variance from the zoning standards.

Variance request are evaluated using the following criteria; 

1.        Exceptional conditions peculiar to the applicant’s property.

This includes any unusual or unique physical limitation of the property such as steep slopes or wetlands that are not generally shared by other properties and which prevent compliance with ordinance requirements. Personal circumstances of an applicant (growing family, desire for a larger garage, etc.) are not a factor in deciding variations. Likewise, nearby ordinance violations, prior variations or lack of neighbor objections do not provide a basis for granting a variation.

2.        Practical difficulties or particular hardships in carrying out the strict letter of the regulation.

The difficulty or hardship must result from the application of ordinance requirements to the property and it must be suffered directly by the owner of the property. An applicant may not claim a hardship because of conditions which are self-created or created by a prior owner (for example, excavate a pond on a vacant lot and then claim there is no suitable location for a house). Also, an economic or financial hardship does not justify a variation.

3.        Harmony with the general purpose and intent of the zoning regulations.

A variation request will not be approved if it is inconsistent with the general purpose and intent of the zoning regulations or which results in any harm to public interests. In applying this test, the ZBA must consider the potential impacts of the proposal and the cumulative impacts of similar projects on the interests of the neighbors, the entire community and the general public.

Please contact the Planning, Building and Development Department at 847-377-2600 or lcpermits@lakecountyil.gov. If you decide to apply, a project manager will assist you with your application and guide you through the variation process. Use the following link to access the variance information packet and application form (PDF).