Zoning is a tool that provides compatibility and predictability in land use and development and aims to protect public health, safety, and general welfare. Zoning categorizes a City into districts and establishes permitted land uses within each district. Zoning districts also specify how dense or intense each use may be (e.g, by specifying how big or small lots may be or how many homes are permitted per lot).
Most Cities regulate the form that land uses may take (e.g., setbacks (how far a building must be from the property line) and maximum or minimum lot sizes and building heights). In certain cases, these standards simply cannot be met or create an undue hardship. For example, a property might have steep slopes or have large sections within the floodplain making it difficult or impossible to meet setback requirements. In these cases, the property owner may choose to apply for a variance from the zoning or subdivision regulations. If the variance is granted, the property owner would not be required to meet the specific regulation in question, but all other regulations would still apply.
Before a request may be heard, City staff must publish a notice in the newspaper, place a sign on the physical property, and send notices to other property owners with 200 (two hundred) feet of the property for which the variance is requested. Variances also require a public hearing (see below) to allow members of the public the opportunity to speak in favor of or against the variance request.
In making its decision, the controlling board (typically the BOA) may consider any and all information presented (by staff, the applicant, and the public) at the public hearing. Please note that the BOA is not permitted to consider financial issues when determining whether there is a hardship.
What is a Special Exception?
Kennedale's zoning code classifies permitted land uses by the following types: permitted by right; permitted with a conditional use permit; and permitted with a special exception. Uses permitted by right are allowed within a particular zoning district without additional permission from the City. For example, single-family homes are permitted by right in single-family zoning districts. Uses permitted by special exception require a review by the Board of Adjustment (BOA).
A special exception is a tool Cities use to consider a proposed land use on a case-by-case basis. For example, on some properties, an auto inspection station or tire repair shop would be compatible with surrounding uses and would not be considered a nuisance. In other cases, however, these uses would be unsuitable.
Certain criteria must be met to receive a special exception. For example, the person or company applying for the special exception must be able to demonstrate that the proposed use won't endanger public health or impair the ability of a neighboring property owner to have the full use and enjoyment of his or her property.
Applying for a Zoning Change, Variance, or Special Exception