Zoning Appeal Process
City Planning and Zoning Administration staff are available to discuss your project no matter how far you are in your process. We are happy to meet with citizens or developers exploring options for their property or to guide you through the zoning review process.
Cases are not presented to the Board of Zoning Appeals unless you receive a Zoning Administrator’s Refusal for plans submitted, a Legal Notice of Violation for work you are doing or have done, or your project includes a conditional use. In these situations, you will need to file an application to the BZA prior to moving forward with your project.
Below are the steps in the BZA process.
1. PRE-APPLICATION MEETING
Prior to applying to the Board of Zoning Appeals or to discuss your project concept to better understand the zoning code rules and regulations, you are encouraged to contact the Planning Department to discuss your project. Contact the BZA Secretary at 333-3673 to schedule a pre-application meeting.
Pre-application meetings may take two forms:
- Conceptual Review: If you’re very early in your project planning, you may meet with Planning staff to discuss your project prior to submitting any permit or zoning applications. Come to the meeting with rough sketches, preliminary site plans, or examples of your development idea. Planning staff will review applicable zoning and design regulations and answer any questions you have about the process.
- Application Review: If you have already submitted for your zoning permit and have received a Zoning Refusal or Legal Notice of Violation, you may meet with Planning staff to discuss the site plan you submitted with your permit application … , bring a copy of the site plan showing the layout of the property and activity in question, and a copy of the refusal you received to your pre-application meeting.
A staff planner will review your project information, explain the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) review process, and answer any questions you have about the application. The Planner will give you an early view of the policy or position that the City may recommend when your application is reviewed by the Board of Zoning Appeals.
Complete the application, including all required attachments and any additional information requested by the staff planner, along with the application fee. Remember to follow the application instructions carefully and submit all of the requested information. If any of the information is missing, this will delay your BZA hearing date. Once the complete application is received, you will be placed on the agenda for the next available hearing. BZA hearings are held on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 4:30 p.m. Once submitted, all information becomes public record.
For application deadlines and fees, download the pdf deadline document.
3. PUBLIC NOTICE AND COMMUNITY FEEDBACK
It is encouraged that BZA applicants receive input and/or support from the community. Applicants may connect with adjacent property owners and with neighborhood leaders to gather comments and feedback from those potentially affected by the development or project. In addition, City staff will forward a copy of the completed application to the appropriate Priority Land Use Board for their review and comment. Applicants are required to attend the next available Priority Land Use Board meeting. Priority Land Use Boards provide recommendations and comments to the BZA for the board’s consideration. You can view the various Land Use areas across the City and identify within which area your project is located on this map.
Twenty days prior to the BZA hearing, City staff will send a public notice to property owners within a 250-foot radius of the subject property, along with the local neighborhood association, and other community stakeholders notifying them of the BZA hearing and the Priority Land Use Board meeting. They will be informed of their right to review the request and to provide comments about the application at the hearing or in writing.
To find the contact information for neighborhood association presidents, visit our Community Engagement webpage.
4. TECHNICAL REVIEW
A staff planner will be assigned to conduct a detailed analysis of the application, and develop a report which outlines any concerns and recommendations for the application. This process includes a review of the zoning code regulations, applicable plans and policies, a site visit, and a thorough examination of the submitted site plan and related materials. This review will often include follow-up conversations with the applicant and requests for clarifying information. If outstanding questions are not answered in a timely fashion, the public hearing may be delayed. The staff’s final report is submitted to the members of the BZA prior to the scheduled hearing. Staff report will include a recommendation for approval, denial, or approval with specific conditions that may require revisions or additions to your project scope.
5. BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS PUBLIC HEARING
The Board of Zoning Appeals will conduct a public hearing and review the application. At the public hearing, the Department of Planning and Community Development staff will present the staff report, which concludes with their recommendations. Applicants will be given an opportunity to speak to the BZA and provide any additional information that you feel is appropriate. Any person wishing to comment on the case will also be permitted to address the BZA regarding the application.
The BZA will formally act upon the application, by either approving or denying. In some situations the BZA may add conditions for approval, or continue the hearing until additional information may be provided. All decisions by the BZA are made public.
Dates for all Board of Zoning Appeals meetings for the coming year can be found on this downloadable calendar.
The week following the BZA public hearing, the Secretary of the BZA will send the decision order to the applicant. A copy of the decision is forwarded to the Division of Zoning Administration. If the Board approves the BZA application, the Zoning Plan Examiner will continue to process the permit. If the Board denies the BZA application, the applicant may appeal the decision to the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court within 30 days of the decision order issuance.