How to Apply for a property variance

Applying for a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals can be an intimidating task. Our real estate attorneys offered this advice.

Imagine you’ve purchased a home. It’s a beautiful house in the perfect location. Maybe it’s in East Nashville. It’s exactly your style, has just the right amount of charm and checks all of the boxes on your list—except one. Your dream home doesn’t have a place to park car. After the real estate closing, you’ll need to build a garage. However, this new addition might violate Metro Nashville Zoning Codes. You have two choices: you can either give up the garage… or you can apply for a zoning variance. 

Step One: File an appeal with the Board of ZOning Appeals

The first step is to file your appeal to the Metro Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). This process requires the homeowner to send 8 hard copies of a scaled site plan with a letter of hardship to the Board. The letter should detail why you cannot comply with the zoning code and how it has affected your property.

Step Two: Property visit

Next, a member of the BZA will visit your property. He or she might take pictures, as a few questions, and confirm the location of the propose change. 

Step three: Notify neighbors and public notice

Third, the property owner must notify any neighbor within 600 feet. The best method is to prepare a letter explaining your request and the date it is to be heard by the BZA. Specific requirements for the envelopes can be found here. Most importantly, these envelopes and notices must be delivered to zoning staff at least 23 days before the public hearing date.  

In addition, public notice must also be given in the form of signage placed on the property.  

Step four: Hearing before the board of zoning appeals

Finally, you will appear before the Board of Zoning Appeals and they will decide whether or not to approve your request. 

If the Board approves your request, you will have two years to obtain the building permit. However, if you wait too long, you may have to start the process over.  

Hire experienced nashville property lawyers

Our team has represented dozens of people before the Board of Zoning Appeals. By hiring our firm, these people were able to continue with their daily lives and not have to worry about the letter writing, mailing, and numerous meetings. 

SUBMITTED BY: HANNAH GARRETT

MORE

Resources

→  Metro Nashville Board of Zoning Appeals

→  What are the zoning restrictions on my property? 

→ Did you know “SP Zoning” stands for “Specific Plan District” and refers to a new type of base zoning district which is not subject to traditional zoning standards? 

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