Frequently asked questions: Board of Zoning Appeals

What is the municipal council's role in land use planning and zoning appeals?

City council's role is limited to establishing and appropriating funding for the planning function, appointing members to the land use boards and commissions, and adopting applicable land use policies and regulations. Once the council adopts the formalized policies and procedures, it cannot be involved in interpreting or enforcing the policies and laws it enacts. 

How are zoning appeals handled?

The 1994 Comprehensive Planning Act authorizes municipal councils to create, as part of the zoning ordinance, a board of zoning appeals. The BZA is empowered to make final administrative decisions for the local government concerning the zoning ordinance as well as to rule on variance and special exception requests.

How should BZA members be appointed?

City council makes appointments to all land use boards and commissions including the BZA. The Planning Act provides municipal councils significant flexibility regarding BZA appointments. According to state law, the BZA can have between three to nine members appointed for overlapping terms of between three to five years. BZA members cannot hold any other public office or position in the appointing government.

How are decisions of the BZA appealed?

All appeals go directly to a state circuit court, not city council, for review.  If council does not like how one of its policies or laws is applied, its only recourse is to modify the policy or law for future application.