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Variance Information

The City of Hickory Land Development Code contains the provision for the issuance of variances. Variances are intended to address practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships resulting from strict application of zoning standards. Variances may not be used to permit a use in a zoning district that is not otherwise allowed in that district, nor shall variances be used to vary or waive the subdivision standards of the Land Development Code. Variances are issued by the Hickory Regional Board of Adjustment.

Variance Process

  • Contact the Planning and Development Division to discuss the type of variance request and to evaluate the feasibility of a successful variance petition.
  • If a variance petition will be submitted, a meeting between staff and the applicant will be arranged to go over the variance process and application needs in detail.
  • The applicant will be responsible for submitting a complete application to the Planning Division. The application must be made by the last regular working day of the month in order for the Hickory Regional Board of Adjustment to hear the request the following month. Applications that are incomplete or late may or may not be accepted by staff.
  • If the applicant is not the owner of the property a written notarized letter from the property owner indicating that they are aware of the request must be provided.
  • Planning staff handle all notices for the upcoming public hearings. Notices include a sign posted on the property, letters mailed to property owners adjacent to the subject property, and notices in the local newspaper and on the city's website. Applicants are encouraged to reach out to neighbors and neighborhood associations to address potential concerns beforehand.
  • Requests will be scheduled for a public hearing in front of the Hickory Regional Board of Adjustment, who will make a final decision regarding the variance request. The public hearing conducted by the Hickory Regional Board of Adjustment will be quasi-judicial, including sworn testimony by the applicant.
  • In the event a variance request is denied by the Hickory Regional Board of Adjustment, the applicant has 30 days to appeal the decision to the North Carolina Superior Court.

Variance Review Criteria

Requests for variances are required to be considered in light of specific review criteria as outlined with the City of Hickory's Land Development Code, and are as follows:

  • Hardships or practical difficulties apply to the subject land, buildings or uses which are not generally applicable to other land, buildings, structures, or uses in the same zoning district;
  • The hardships or practical difficulties are not the result of the actions of the property owner or applicant, their agent, employee, or contractor;
  • Strict application of the standards of this Land Development Code would deprive the owner or applicant of reasonable use of the property;
  • Granting the requested variance will not result in advantages or special privileges to the applicant or property owner that this Land Development Code denies to other land, structures, or uses in the same district, and that the variance is the minimum variance necessary to provide relief;
  • The variance will not result in the expansion of a nonconforming use or structure;
  • The hardships or practical difficulties alleged extend to the inability to use the land in question for any use in conformity with the provision of the Land Development Code and include substantially more than mere inconvenience and inability to attain a higher financial return;
  • The variance, if allowed, will not substantially interfere with or injure the rights of others whose property would be affected by allowance of the variance;
  • The variance is consistent with the stated purpose and intent of this Land Development Code and the Hickory by Choice Comprehensive Land Use and Transportation Plan;
  • The variance is the minimum variance necessary to allow a reasonable use of the land, and
  • Allowing the variance will result in substantial justice being done, considering both the public benefits intended to be secured by the Land Development Code and the individual hardships that will be suffered if the variance request is denied.

Key Documents