Apply for a Zoning Variance

Zoning Ordinance Variance is a request to have your property used in a way that is ordinarily not permitted by the zoning ordinance. 

Paper Form

Prepare Required Documents

Here are the required documents you’ll need to submit to us with your application:

Response to Variance Review Standards- Dimensional/non-use, Use, or Sign
Select the applicable Review Standards for the requested Variance and complete in full.

To download them, click the type of variance that you are seeking:

Use additional paper if needed. If you don’t know which Review Standards to complete, call the Planning Department at 616-456-4100 for guidance.

Dimensioned Site Plan from a Property Survey (1 copy & 1 digital PDF copy)

  • Existing or proposed buildings or additions on the property.
  • Number and location of all on-site parking spaces.
  • Existing and proposed distances to adjacent property lines.
  • Location of existing and proposed signs, if applicable.
  • Any other information relevant to the Variance application.

Dimensioned Drawings and Plans (1 copy & 1 digital PDF copy)

  • All proposed buildings and additions.
  • All existing and proposed signs on the property (photographs may be used).
  • For use variances, include floor plan showing the existing and proposed layout and functions of each area.
  • For multi-family residential structures or projects, a summary showing the existing and proposed number of units by type (efficiency, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, etc.)

Other Helpful Information - Optional

  • Photographs of the lot or structure that shows the special conditions or circumstances described in the application.
  • Photographs or maps that show how other properties in the area enjoy the same type of property rights related to the Variance.
  • Letters of support from the neighbors who would be most affected by your request.

Get Neighborhood Input

Applicants are strongly encouraged to meet with neighboring property owners and neighborhood or business association before the hearing. This will help answer any questions or concerns they may have.

Don't know which neighborhood your association your property belongs to? Click here.

Pay fees

Here are the fees of this application (as of July 1, 2019):

Dimensional Variance Level 1- $540 (e.g. fences, pools)

Dimensional Variance Level 2- $1,405 (e.g. setbacks, lot width and/or lot area, parking)

Use Variance- $2,055

Sign Variance- $1,405

Submit Your Request Application

Fill out your application. The "Variance" application is required for all variance types, in addition to the application for the specific variance type: Use, Dimensional/Non-use, or Sign.

Return the application to the Grand Rapids Planning Department, located on the 3rd floor of 1120 Monroe Avenue NW.

Request a Zoning Ordinance Variance(PDF, 331KB)

A complete application may be submitted to the Planning Department Monday – Friday, from 7:30am to 4:00pm. A complete application must be submitted at least five (5) weeks prior to the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting. For a list of Board Zoning Appeals meeting schedule and application deadlines, click here.

We’ll Review Your Application

The application will be reviewed by the Planning Department staff before submission to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). A staff person may contact you with questions or a request for more information.

We’ll Notify you for your Public Hearing

Following staff review, the variance request will be given to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) for a public hearing. We'll notify you 15 days before to the BZA meeting.

Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting

All meetings of the BZA are held on the 2nd floor of 1120 Monroe Avenue NW. You will be notified of the date and time of the meeting. Each public hearing item for consideration is assigned an approximate start time. The Planning staff introduces and explains each request to the BZA. You’re then asked to present information on his or her proposal. The BZA may ask questions of the staff and/or applicant. The BZA then allows public comment on the application and a chance for the applicant to address any concerns or questions. The public hearing is then closed and the BZA deliberates on the request in open session. The BZA may recommend approval, approval with conditions, denial, or may table the variance request.

We’ll Give You a Written Notice of the BZA’s Decision

The applicant will be provided with a letter that documents the decision of the BZA, including any conditions of approval.

Online Form

We don't accept online applications for this service

You can complete the paper application. Click the Paper Form tab of this page for instructions and to download the form. Call or visit our office if you need help applying. You can find our number and address in the Contact Us section of this page. We're happy to help you fill out an application!

 

In Person

Prepare Required Documents

Here are the required documents you’ll need to submit to us with your application:

Response to Variance Review Standards- Dimensional, Use, or Sign
Select the applicable Review Standards for the requested Variance and complete in full. To download them, click here. Use additional paper if needed. If you don’t know which Review Standards to complete, call the Planning Department at 616-456-4100 for guidance.

Dimensioned Site Plan from a Property Survey (1 copy & 1 digital PDF copy)

  • Existing or proposed buildings or additions on the property.
  • Number and location of all on-site parking spaces.
  • Existing and proposed distances to adjacent property lines.
  • Location of existing and proposed signs, if applicable.
  • Any other information relevant to the Variance application.

Dimensioned Drawings and Plans (1 copy & 1 digital PDF copy)

  • All proposed buildings and additions.
  • All existing and proposed signs on the property (photographs may be used).
  • For use variances, include floor plan showing the existing and proposed layout and functions of each area.
  • For multi-family residential structures or projects, a summary showing the existing and proposed number of units by type (efficiency, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, etc.)

Other Helpful Information - Optional

  • Photographs of the lot or structure that shows the special conditions or circumstances described in the application.
  • Photographs or maps that show how other properties in the area enjoy the same type of property rights related to the Variance.
  • Letters of support from the neighbors who would be most affected by your request.

Get Neighborhood Input

Applicants are strongly encouraged to meet with neighboring property owners and neighborhood or business association before the hearing. This will help answer any questions or concerns they may have.

 Don't know which neighborhood your association your property belongs to? Click here.

Pay fees

Here are the fees of this application (as of July 1, 2019):

Dimensional Variance Level 1- $540 (e.g. fences, pools)

Dimensional Variance Level 2- $1,405 (e.g. setbacks, lot width and/or lot area, parking)

Use Variance- $2,055

Sign Variance- $1,405

Submit Your Request Application

Fill out your application. Return the application to the Grand Rapids Planning Department, located on the 3rd floor of 1120 Monroe Avenue NW.

 Request a Zoning Ordinance Variance

A complete application may be submitted to the Planning Department Monday – Friday, from 7:30am to 4:00pm. A complete application must be submitted at least five (5) weeks prior to the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting. For a list of Board of Zoning Appeals meeting schedule and application deadlines, click here.

We’ll Review Your Application

The application will be reviewed by the Planning Department staff before submission to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). A staff person may contact you with questions or a request for more information.

We’ll Notify you for your Public Hearing

Following staff review, the variance request will be given to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) for a public hearing. We'll notify you 15 days before to the BZA meeting.

Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting

All meetings of the BZA are held on the 2nd floor of 1120 Monroe Avenue NW. You will be notified of the date and time of the meeting. Each public hearing item for consideration is assigned an approximate start time. The Planning staff introduces and explains each request to the BZA. You’re then asked to present information on his or her proposal. The BZA may ask questions of the staff and/or applicant. The BZA then allows public comment on the application and a chance for the applicant to address any concerns or questions. The public hearing is then closed and the BZA deliberates on the request in open session. The BZA may recommend approval, approval with conditions, denial, or may table the variance request.

We’ll Give You a Written Notice of BZA’s Decision

The applicant will be provided with a letter that documents the decision of the BZA, including any conditions of approval.