A variance is intended to provide relief from regulations when the ordinance creates an unfair hardship, the requirements of the ordinance as applied to a particular situation create a result that is inconsistent with the ordinance’s intent, or the application of the ordinance to a particular situation is ambiguous or undefined. The granting of a variance may only occur if the following five findings can be made:
- That the proposed development or use is consistent with the West Des Moines comprehensive plan and any applicable sub-area plan.
- That there are special circumstances or exceptional characteristics applicable to the subject property with regard to size, shape, topography or location, which do not apply generally to comparable properties in the same vicinity and zones.
- That the strict application of the zoning regulations as they apply to the subject property will result in practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships inconsistent with the general purpose of such regulations provided that such hardships shall not be self-imposed by the applicant or his or her successor in interest.
- That there have been no changes in the character of the site or its surrounding which detrimentally affect the environment.
- That the granting of such variance does not, under the circumstances and conditions applied in the particular case, adversely affect the health or safety of persons, is not materially detrimental to the public welfare, nor injurious to nearby property or improvements.
It is important to realize that the City does not approve variances simply based on applicant’s wants, convenience, or expense. There must be a solid justification for why a requirement that is typically applied to other similar sites should not be applied to a particular project.