The Zoning Board of Appeals is a quasi-judicial board tasked with making determinations in cases involving conditional uses, zoning variences or zoning appeals.
A Zoning Ordinance is a set of regulations intended to guide development “in accordance with existing and future needs of the community, and to promote public health, safety, morals, convenience, order, appearance, prosperity and general welfare” (SC Code 6-29-710). It is the responsibility of the Planning Director to work with individuals and businesses to ensure they meet all zoning regulations. However, in certain circumstances it is the ZBA that makes a final decision about the interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance. These circumstances include appeals, conditional use permits and variance applications.
An appeal is made when an individual or business feels that the Planning Director, as the Zoning Administrator, incorrectly interpreted the Zoning Ordinance. The petitioner must be able to prove that their request meets all applicable requirements and that an error was made.
A conditional use is a use otherwise not permitted in a district but that can be allowed if approved for a Conditional Use Permit by the ZBA. For a Conditional Use Permit to be approved, a developer must be able to demonstrate that the project meets a specific set of criteria as set forth in the Zoning Ordinance. For example, under the Zoning Ordinance, a multi-family development would be a conditional use in a General Commercial District. In this instance, the Zoning Board could approve a Conditional Use Permit for the multi-family development only if the developer is able to demonstrate that they meet all the specific criteria.
A variance request deals with the modification of an otherwise legitimate zoning restriction when, due to unusual conditions, the restriction may be more burdensome than was intended. For example, a property may be shaped in a way that meeting the setback requirements would result in “unnecessary hardship” to the property owner.
In all of the three types of decisions, the Zoning Board of Appeals must make their determinations solely on the basis of facts and evidence. The Board cannot allow or disallow developments or projects based on emotion or subjective measures. It is important to remember that a City cannot arbitrarily decide what a property owner may or may not do with their property. Cities can guide development, but it must be done within the confines of their zoning ordinance and state law. The Zoning Board of Appeals meets on an as-needed basis. Meetings are advertised in the Goose Creek Gazette and the Post & Courier, and signs are also posted on the property in question. For more information on the City’s Zoning Ordinance or the Zoning Board of Appeals, visit www.cityofgoosecreek.com or call 797-6220 x 116.