Cary looks to adjust building variance fee

CARY – Asking for a variance from village zoning and building codes might become a little cheaper.

Currently there is a $750 fee for a variance in town, and village staff is recommending that it be reduced to $500. The Village Board is scheduled to vote on the recommendation at its meeting on Tuesday.

Director of Community and Economic Development Chris Stilling said that when a project is proposed, village staff will see whether it meets zoning and building requirements. If not, municipal staff work to adjust the project designs so they would be within code.

A variation is required when a property owner is unable to meet certain zoning requirements. Petitions for zoning variations are handled by Stilling and his department's secretary. Typically, people ask for variances on required setbacks, impervious coverage and shed heights, among other things, Stilling said.

Village staff members help prepare a variance application, public notice and a letter to be sent to surrounding property owners. They also create a list of property owners who live within 250 feet of the subject property needing the variance. Staff also has to prepare documents for the Board of Zoning, Planning and Appeals Commission and the Village Board.

Even though the cost of each request varies, all of the legwork is estimated to average about two hours for the department secretary and three hours for Stilling. The five hours of staff time is about $250 per variance petition.

ZPA members and the village clerk also are compensated for having a public hearing on the variation petition, which costs $195.

There could be some projects that require more staff time, Village Trustee Rick Dudek said.

"I agree we should charge for what we have into it, but then you have a variable fee," Dudek said. "We don't have a variable fee, we have fixed costs."

The village is considering reducing the fees after resident Jerrie Hanus asked to increase the amount of impervious coverage from 35 percent of her property to 38.3 percent. Hanus asked for the variance because of plans to install an above-ground pool.

Village Board members said they were not in favor of the $750 fee amount.

Since 2010, the village has approved nine variance requests.

Stilling said that if the village is seeing and approving a lot of the same type of variance requests, it might have to consider changing the code to make it easier for residents.

"The intent is to meet the code," Stilling said. "In most cases, we're able to achieve code compliance."

To attend

What: Cary Village Board

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Village Hall, 655 Village Hall Drive

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