Acquiring a Zoning/Use variance is necessary anytime you would like to use a property for a different purpose than what it is legally zoned to be in the code. For example, if you would like to turn your house into a coffee shop, it would require a use variance.
Another type of variance is a dimensional variance. A dimensional variance is required when the proposed structure or lot does not meet the dimensional requirements of the Philadelphia Zoning code.
In cases dealing with variances, an important question that arises is whether or not the denial of the variance will create an “unnecessary hardship” for the applicant. There are multiple elements to figuring out if you can prove a hardship or not. For both use and dimensional variances, if you can prove that you did not create the hardship, then the answer to the question would be yes, the denial would create a hardship and it is out of your hands.
For use variances, you must prove the following to be deemed a legitimate hardship:
For dimensional variances, the Zoning board may consider economic detriment and financial burden to the applicant, and character of the neighborhood.
The hardship may be deemed legitimate by The Zoning Board if it proves to be economically or financially detrimental to the applicant and if the variance does not sacrifice the character of the neighborhood.