Sometimes when a building permit is reviewed, it is discovered that a particular site development standard required by the zoning regulations cannot be met.  For example, the standards might require that a house be built forty feet from the property line but an active irrigation ditch crossing the middle of the property makes it possible to set the house only twenty-five feet away from the property line.  In such a case, you can ask for a variance from the Board of Adjustment.  Other examples of possible variances include exceeding the height of buildings and signs, and providing fewer than required parking spaces or improvements.

What is the Board of Adjustment?
Each elected member of the Board of Supervisors appoints a three-member Board of Adjustment to serve their district.  Each Board of Adjustment serves as a safety valve to provide relief from the strict enforcement of site development standards when the unusual shape or topography of a lot makes meeting the standards impossible.

How Long Does the Process Take?

Under ordinary circumstances, the process takes about 6 weeks. There are three Boards, one for each of the three supervisor districts in Cochise County.  Each Board of Adjustment meets once a month. Please contact the Planning Department for dates and locations.

Will my building permit take longer to issue?
Yes, because a permit cannot be issued until the variance process is completed.

Will the public have any input?

Yes.  The Board of Adjustment always takes into account the effect on the neighbors before granting a variance.  For this reason property owners within 300 feet of your site will be notified of your variance request.  Also, legal notice is placed in the local newspaper and posted on the property. The Board of Adjustment then holds a public hearing to allow people to voice their opinion.

It is highly recommended that you visit or write your neighboring property owners and explain what you want to do. Sometimes a simple explanation will help them understand the project and prevent them from objecting. The Planning Department can assist in obtaining addresses.

The Board's Decision
The Board of Adjustment's decisions are based on public input as well as an analysis of the specific nature of the parcel and the potential impact on granting the variance on nearby parcels.  The Board members vote on the variance after holding the public hearing.  They can vote to approve, deny or approve the variance with conditions.

The Board of Adjustment's decisions can be appealed to the Superior Court within thirty days.  The Planning Department is not involved in the appeals process.  Information about the appeal process can be requested from the Court offices.

Required Submittals

  • Variance application form
  • $300 fee (pays for processing, legal notice and posting the property)
  • 6 copies of a site plan, clearly readable and completed per the site plan requirements sheet

The process will not begin until fees and all information needed for review are submitted.  This fee does not include the building permit fee.

Submittal Deadlines: Generally six weeks before the Board's meeting; please call the Planning and Zoning Department for specific submittal days.