Most zoning acts allow boards to grant variance from the strict letter of the zoning ordinance. This allows an alternative when individual landowners would otherwise suffer special hardship from the application of the ordinance, but it should be exercised sparingly.
There are two types of variances:
For a variance to be granted, the applicant must show that relief is necessary to prevent unnecessary hardship to the property owner and that it is not contrary to the public interest.
- Unnecessary hardship means that the property owner is unable to yield a reasonable return due to the unique character of the property.