A variance application is a request to grant relief from certain zoning requirements for property when a lot differs from all lots around it and when ALL of the following standards from Section 9.2.4 of the Zoning Ordinance have been met:

  • Physical Characteristics of the Property the exceptional narrowness, shallowness or shape of a specific piece of property, exceptional topographic condition, or other extraordinary and exceptional condition of such property would result in peculiar and exceptional practical difficulties to,  or exceptional and undue hardship upon the owner of such property, upon the strict application of the regulation. 
  • Hardship Not Self-Imposed The alleged difficulty or hardship has not been treated by the previous actions of any person having an interest in the property after the effective date of the ordinance. 
  • Financial Gain Not Only Basis. Financial gain is not the sole basis for granting the variance. 
  • No Harm to Public Welfare.  The granting of the variance will not be detrimental to the public welfare and will not substantially impair the intent and purpose of the zoning ordinance. 

In accordance with State law, ALL FOUR CRITERIA MUST BE MET to grant a variance.  Variances are typically considered for dimensional requirements, such as encroachments into setbacks.  Variances cannot be considered for use regulations.  They also do not include financial burdens that an applicant may perceive to be incurred if asked to fully comply with the Town's regulations. 

"In granting a variance the board may attach thereto such conditions regarding the location, character and other features of the proposed building, structure or use as it may deem advisable in furtherance of the purpose of the Zoning Ordinance.  Before any variance is granted it shall be shown that circumstances are attached to the property that do not generally apply to other properties"

Variances are reviewed and approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals

Step 1. Pre-Application Meeting with Staff (Optional)

A pre-application meeting is advised but not required prior to submitting an application.  Meeting with staff will ensure your request can be legally heard by the Board of Zoning Appeals. To set up a meeting please contact the Planning Department at 615.776.6693 or

Step 2. Variance Application Submittal

The application must be submitted according to the Submittal ScheduleFees are due upon submittal. For a list of submittal requirements see the Variance checklist . The submittal form is found HERE

Step 3. Public Notice

At least 10 days prior to the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, the APPLICANT mails notification letters to the surrounding property owners.  The applicant must submit a copy of the public notice letter to the Planning Department along with a public notice affidavit.  A sign should be posted on the property 10 days prior to the hearing.  Signs are available through the Planning Department. 

The Planning Department will publish public notice in a PAPER at least 10 days prior to the date of the Board of Zoning Appeals hearing. 

Step 4. Staff Review
Staff will review the application, prepare a staff report and make a recommendation to the Board of Zoning Appeals.  

Step 5. Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting

The Board of Zoning Appeals reviews the application, holds a public hearing and take the final action on the application.  Following the vote, staff provides a form for the applicant and the chair to sign which documents the action taken at the meeting.

Step 6. Moving Forward

When the variance is granted the  applicant may proceed with a building permit, plat or site plan as applicable.  If moving forward with a Site Plan or Plat submittal the applicant would include documentation of the action taken by the Board of Zoning Appeals with the application.