A variance is a request to deviate from a literal requirement of the zoning, or subdivision ordinances due to special circumstances of a property. It is not considered a change in municipal law, but a waiver of a certain requirement of the ordinance. If granted, it permits the owner to utilize his land in a way that is ordinarily not permitted by the ordinance.

An administrative official of the City of Gainesville cannot approve a variance. It is important to note that use variances cannot be legally granted via a variance, as that is considered to be rezoning and is governed by a different process. Additionally, self-imposed hardships and economically related hardships are insufficient findings to grant a variance.  

Variance requests may be considered by the Board of Appeals after public notice and a public hearing.

The following types of appeals/variance are heard by the Board of Appeals:

  • Appeal regarding possible error in any order, requirement, decision or determination made by the Building Official.
  • Modification (s) of the height, yard area coverage, floor area ratio, parking, or loading regulations as may be necessary to secure appropriate development of a parcel of land which differs from other parcels in the district by being of such restricted area, shape or slope that it cannot be appropriately developed without such modification.
  • Permit the reconstruction, extension enlargement of a building occupied by a nonconforming use on the lot occupied by such building or the reconstruction of a structure destroyed by fire or the elements not to exceed sixty (60%) percent of its reasonable value and the addition of off-street parking or off-street loading to a nonconforming use.
  • Require the discontinuance of nonconforming uses of land or structure under any plan whereby the full value of the facilities can be amortized within a definite period of time.

*Note: Sign variances are granted by the Planning and Zoning Commission. (Please see "Signs" page for more information)

The following attachments must be included with the Board of Appeals Application:

*Applications will not be accepted unless verified to be fully complete.  

  • Project Narrative: a written proposal for the request that describes the request and how it deviates from the code.
  • Site plan drawn to scale that indicates the proposed request
  • Copies of any supporting documentation