ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS
845-832-6111, Ext 100
Meetings take place:
the first Wednesday of the month
at 7:00pm at Town Hall
Marilyn Van Millon
Members (1 Vacancy)
Under state statutes, when a local legislature adopts zoning regulations it must establish a Zoning Board of Appeals. The essential function of the Zoning Board of Appeals is to grant variances from strict application of the zoning laws in circumstances when they create demonstrable hardships or practical difficulties for property owners. This makes the Zoning Board of Appeals a safety valve, protecting landowners from unfair application of the laws in particular circumstances. The zoning board of appeals also hears appeals from the decisions of the zoning enforcement officer or building inspector when interpretations of the zoning law are involved.
A variance allows a landowner to use land or locate structures on the land in a manner not permitted by the provisions of the law. Use variances are granted only when a landowner establishes that the current use restrictions produce an "unnecessary hardship", preventing the realization of a reasonable economic return on the land. Area variances, permitting development that deviates from dimensional requirements of the law, are granted to landowners who encounter particular difficulties in locating structures on the land in compliance with the zoning regulations. Before approaching the Zoning Board of Appeals, property owners must seek an interpretation of the zoning law from the zoning enforcement officer or building inspector to determine how it applies to their properties. If they disagree with that decision, they may appeal it to the zoning board of appeals. If they agree, but wish to secure relief from the law's provisions, they may ask the zoning board for a variance. A majority of the members of the board must vote to reverse any such determination, order, or decision or they can grant a variance. The Zoning Board of Appeals need not hear an appeal that is made more than sixty days after the zoning administrator's determination. Such an appeal has exceeded the time limit set in the statute, found in Town Law § 267-a (5). In hearing a timely appeal or granting a variance, the Zoning Board of Appeals essentially is acting like a court of law. The board's procedures are quasi-judicialin nature., in turn,can be appealed only to a court of law for review. Day-to-Day administration or enforcement of the zoning law is the responsibility of the Code Enforcement Officer. In the Town of Dover, the duties of the Code Enforcement Officer are preformed by the Building Inspector. Appeals of the Code Enforcement Officers’ decisions are brought to the Town of Dover Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). Only the ZBA can interpret the meaning of the zoning law. The ZBA may approve requests for area or use variances in cases of documented hardship (that is not self induced) to the property owner. For more information on zoning, consult Zoning Enforcement, prepared by the New York State Department of State http://www.dos.state.ny.us, and the Dutchess County Department of Planning and Development http://www.co.dutchess.ny.us for the technical memorandum Variance Standards.
It should be noted that special permits are not the same as variances. Variance requests are requests for relief from the zoning law; planning boards do not have the authority to grant variances or vary the zoning law; only the appeals body, the ZBA, has that authority as designated by State Statute Town Law section 267-b.