Zoning Variances

When do I need to apply for a variance?

A variance is required when a given structure does not comply with zoning regulations in regards to the parameter setbacks and square footage/lot area requirements.

For example, if a shed is supposed to be at least 20 feet back from your property line, but is closer than this (only 15 feet or 10 feet), you will need to apply for a variance before you can obtain a building permit.

Another example is if you are trying to build a new house on a vacant lot which is zoned to have a minimum size of 40,000 square feet and your lot is only 30,000; a variance would be needed to approve construction.

What do I need?

  • An application form from the Building Department
  • 7 copies of the survey indicating where the structure is going to be placed
  • 7 copies of the plans for the construction
  • A check for the application fee
  • If you cannot provide 7 copies of the survey and plans, you can bring one of each and we will make the copies for you, so long as they do not exceed 11" x 17" size paper.

When is the deadline to hand this application in?
Applications are due on the last Monday of the month. Workshops will be held the first Monday of the following month at 7:30 pm, site inspections done the Sunday after, and the actual meetings are on the third Monday of each month at 7:30 pm. The workshop is optional and it's for your informational purposes only; however, the meetings on the third Monday of the month are mandatory.

How much is the fee for the application?
Please see our fee schedule under Chapter 36-3 of the Town Code here (under Chapter 77, Zoning).

Most common variances will be charged under the "Area variance" fee – this will be $150 unless you are trying to obtain a variance for a structure which was already built without a permit, in which case the fee will be doubled ($300).

Do I have to notify my neighbors?
Please read the procedure under in the code online of the Town of Kent, here (Chapter 77-58).

Neighbors within a given distance of your residence have to be notified of your appeal to the Zoning Board at least seven (7) days before the hearing.

A format letter for notifying your neighbors of your appeal is included in the application; you may either send the letters by certified mail, or alternatively go door to door and have them sign the letter itself in person as to save the certified mail fees.

The radius of neighbors whom have to be notified depends on what zone you are in; If you live in an R-10, PRD, Commercial or IOC district, you will have to notify everyone within 100 feet of your residence. If you live in an R-40 or R-80 district, you have to notify everyone within 500 feet.

What happens after the board has approved my variance?
Now you're eligible to apply for a building permit as per the standard permit process. Your survey and plans can be copied over to the application, but please refer to our Permit FAQ's for the building permit procedure - see our Building Permit topics here.

What if my variance isn't approved, will I get my money back?
Unfortunately, the application fee for a variance is non-refundable.