Variance Request

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A variance is a zoning adjustment which permits minor changes of zone district requirements where individual properties are burdened by the strict application of the law.  The power to vary is restricted and the degree of variation is limited to the minimum change necessary to overcome the inequality inherent in the property.  A variance to the uses permitted on the property is specifically prohibited.  The word “variance” means the modification of the requirements of a zoning district and does not include the substitution of uses assigned to other districts.


Major Variances

The Littleton City Code grants the power to the Board of Adjustment to authorize variances from the terms of the Zoning Ordinance as will not be contrary to the public interest.  The applicant must show that, owing to exceptional and extraordinary circumstances, literal enforcement of the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance will result in unnecessary hardship.  Every approval of the Board of Adjustment is subject to terms and conditions fixed by the Board. See operating standards and checklist for major variance fees.

The Board of Adjustment cannot authorize a variance unless it finds that ALL the following conditions exist: 

  1. That the variance will not authorize the operation of a use other than those uses specifically permitted in the zone district where the property is located;
  2. That the variance will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood or district in which the property is located;
  3. That the variance is the minimum that will afford relief.
  4. That the variance will not adversely affect the public health, safety and welfare; and
  5. That the allegations of hardship were not self-created.

Each variance authorized by the Board of Adjustment shall not be personal to the applicant but shall be transferable and shall run with the land.

In addition, the Board of Adjustment can consider the granting of a variance to any person who establishes his or her status as a qualified individual with a disability and who requires a reasonable accommodation from the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance when such accommodation may be necessary to afford the individual equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

Time Limit:  Any decision of the Board which requires issuance of a building permit to become effective shall automatically expire twenty-four (24) months after the date such decision is made, or after final determination of any appeal, unless actual construction has started, or property rights have been vested.


Minor Variances

The planning division shall grant minor variances to certain lot requirements for legally platted lots which meet the five conditions above and the additional criteria stated below. Such variances shall not, however, exceed twenty percent (20%) of the minimum lot requirements, established in chapter 2 of this title. Minor variances can be done administratively with a shorter timeframe and a reduced fee. No public hearing or notice signs are required.

  1. Variances granted under this provision shall be restricted to:
    1. Minimum lot area requirements for legally platted lots which do not meet the minimum lot area required by the zone district regulations governing the area in which the lot is located;
    2. Minimum lot width at the front setback line;
    3. Building setbacks for primary and accessory structures;
    4. Distribution of unobstructed open space adjacent to rights of ways in commercial and industrial zone districts; and
    5. Percentage of lots to be retained in unobstructed open space.


To request a major or minor variance, please remit an application.

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