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Planning and Community Development Department

  • Conditional Use Permit & Variance

    What is a Conditional Use Permit and a Variance?

    A Conditional Use Permit is required for uses typically having unusual site development features or operating characteristics requiring special consideration and conditions so they may be designed, located, and operated compatibly with neighboring properties. Some types of uses that require review under the conditional use permit provisions include: service stations, child day care centers, and businesses that sell alcohol or offer live entertainment.

    A Variance is a request for a deviation from the Zoning Code for a particular development standard because of unusual circumstances associated with a particular site. Some examples of types of variances are for building height and parking. No variances to the land use classifications of the Zoning Code are allowed.

    Both conditional use permits and variances require noticed public hearings with a review by the Zoning Hearing Officer. A decision to approve or deny an application is based on the findings of fact contained in the Zoning Code.


    What do I need to do to file an application for a hearing?

    The application forms can be obtained from a planner at the Current Planning counter in the Permit Center. The complete application submittal for a hearing consists of five sets each of the items listed below except photographs.

    The application includes:

    1. A cover application
    2. A supplemental application (CUP or Variance)
    3. An environmental assessment form
    4. A radius map
    5. A mailing list, mailing labels, affidavit
    6. A site plan, floor plans, elevations, landscape plans
    7. Photographs of the site, buildings


    Are there fees and what do they cover?

    There is a fee to cover the cost of processing your application. There is an additional fee for combined applications (i.e. CUP and variance applications, two CUPs, etc.). In addition to this base fee, there is a notification fee, and a fee for environmental review  and for processing State Fish and Game review. Depending on whether or not your project needs a more extensive environmental review, there may be additional fees. These fees change yearly as they are adjusted to the cost of living, and you should check with a planner for the fees on your case. If your case is denied, you do not receive a refund of your money.


    What is the process after an application is filed?

    On receipt of an application for a conditional use permit and/or variance, the Current Planning office will determine if the application is complete. After the application is deemed complete and the applicant is notified, the Current Planning staff will prepare an  environmental review  of the project.

    After completion of the environmental review, the staff notifies the property owners within 300 feet of the site of the upcoming public hearing. The notice will give the date and time of the hearing and a brief description of the request.

    The staff will prepare a report with a recommendation for the Zoning Hearing Officer. This report will be available during the week prior to the public hearing. At the hearing the staff will make a brief presentation and then an opportunity for testimony to the Hearing Officer is given for the applicant and those persons in favor or in opposition. A rebuttal period is afforded the applicant if opposition testimony is presented.

    At the conclusion of the public hearing, the Zoning Hearing Officer has several options. The case can be approved with conditions, denied, or taken under advisement for several days before a decision is made. The entire hearing process from application submittal to decision letter takes approximately 4 to 6 months.


    Can the decision be appealed?

    Yes, the decision of the Zoning Hearing Officer are appealable to the Board of Zoning Appeals which meets once a month. The decisions of the Zoning Hearing Officer can also be called for review by the City Council or the Planning Commission to the Board of Zoning Appeals.


    How does one file an appeal?

    An appeal application is available in the Permit Center at the Current Planning counter. Appeals by interested parties must occur prior to the effective date. The effective date is the 11th day after the decision is made. The appeal application must state why the appeal is being filed. The appeal application is turned into Current Planning and a filing fee is charged. You should check with the current Planning staff  to determine when the final day to appeal a case occurs.


    When does the approved conditional use permit/variance become effective and how long is it effective?

    The decision on an application becomes effective on the 11th day following the date of the decision unless the decision is appealed or called for review by the City Council or Planning Commission.  A building permit must be issued for the approved application within two years of the effective date of the approval. A one year time extension of the approval may be granted by Zoning Administrator. See the Zoning Code or the Current Planning staff for further information.


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