The Basics of Plan Commissions and BZAs

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Welcome to the Program. Mark Spelbring, Extension Educator, Parke County Plan Commission MemberKK Gerhart-Fritz, AICPThe Planning WorkshopVideo Credit

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The Basics of Plan Commissions and BZAs

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1. The Basics of Plan Commissions and BZAs Quarterly Land Use Update January 25, 2006

2. Welcome to the Program Mark Spelbring, Extension Educator, Parke County Plan Commission Member KK Gerhart-Fritz, AICP The Planning Workshop Video Credit – Greg Dale

3. Video Seminar Series Sponsors Purdue Cooperative Extension Service Land Use Team Indiana Planning Association Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc. Ball State University, College of Architecture and Planning

4. Seminar Series Endorsed by Indiana Association of Cities and Towns Association of Indiana Counties Indiana Rural Development Council Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors

5. What is Planning? A “plan” for getting from the present to the desired future Deciding in advance, what to do, how to do it, and especially where to do it Community decisions about where things should be located, instead of everything being decided individually

6. Grocery List Plan Example Plan party together, decide what is needed Send 3 people to the market for 10 items A – tell him what to get B – give him a written list C – give him a list, but send him hungry Who will get back with the right stuff? Communities with a plan might get there!

7. What is Zoning? A tool to implement your plan Zoning with no plan makes no sense, since it is a tool to implement the plan Zoning comes from “Police Powers” of government, and protects all citizens by limiting what citizens can do with land Powers are limited to public purposes

8. Planning and Zoning Planning and Zoning are optional for local governments, but if adopted they must be done according to state regulations Indiana code sets out requirements IC 36-7-4-xxx Note – don’t fear the code – anyone can read and understand most of it!

9. Who are the Players? Legislative Bodies County Commissioners City/Town Councils Fiscal Bodies Planning Director and/or Staff Plan Commission Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA)

10. Legislative Bodies Role – Law Making Power to adopt Comprehensive Plan Power to adopt Zoning Ordinance Power to adopt Subdivision Regulations Power to amend ordinances & maps Appoint members and may be one member of Plan Commission Appoint members of BZA

11. Fiscal Bodies Role – Financial Support Appropriate funds for operation County Council City/Town Council May appoint members and may be one member of Plan Commission May appoint member of BZA

12. Planning Director and/or Staff Role – Administration of the Law Administers zoning ordinance Interprets zoning ordinance Keep records and maps Staff for Plan Commission and BZA Appointment – depends upon law

13. Plan Commission Role – Advisory and Law Administration Prepare Comprehensive Plan Prepare Zoning Ordinance Prepare Subdivision Ordinance Approve/Deny Subdivisions Make Recommendations on Proposed Changes to Zone Maps, Ordinance Text, and Comprehensive Plan

14. Board of Zoning Appeals - BZA Role – Quasi Judicial Hear Appeals of Administrative Decisions Approve/Deny Special Exceptions Approve/Deny Contingent/Conditional Use Approve/Deny Variances Variance of Standards/Use Variance

15. Confused Yet? Many players on planning & zoning teams All are public officials Each has a job to do Each should only do their own job Teamwork is critical to success Public debate strengthens government Public bickering will destroy public trust

16. Learn the Language Ag District, Comprehensive Plan, Eminent Domain, Non-Conforming Use, Petitioner, Remonstrator, Special Exception, Takings, Urban Growth Boundary, Variance Reference – Purdue Extension Publication ID-228, The ABC’s of P & Z – A Planning & Zoning Glossary http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/agecon.htm#30

17. Focus on Plan Commissions What were you told when asked to serve? It will be fun and won’t take much time You may get to stay up all night You will win friends and influence people You won’t be sued very often You will have a chance to serve and make a difference in the future of our community It’s a great place to start a political career

18. Plan Commission – Main Types Advisory Plan Commission County City or Town Area Plan Commission Must include county and at least one municipality Includes rural and urban representation Metropolitan

19. What is the Plan Commission? Independent commission Mainly private citizens Appointed by elected officials No legislative authority Little administrative authority Advisor to governing body Note – elected officials have final authority

20. How Does Plan Comm. Work? Part of local government Behave as public officials Reference – Purdue Extension Publication ID-235, “What is the Plan Commission and How Does it Work?” Nitty Gritty Training Programs IPA Publications and Conferences

21. Let’s Go To The Videotape Greg Dale presented information on Land Use Update, September 3, 2003, called Ethical and Defensible Decision Making This videotape can be obtained from members of Purdue Land Use Team We will just show part of it to let you see what’s available

22. Discussion Question How is your plan commission doing on the points Greg Dale made in the videotape? Discuss at each site when we take our break in just a few minutes

23. Plan Commission Review 1 Open Door Law Chance meetings Site visits Public meetings vs. public hearings Formalize public hearing time Reference – Purdue Extension Publication ID-232, “Plan Commission Public Hearings: A Plan Commissioner’s Guide”

24. Plan Commission Review 2 Motions – taking official action “Positive” motions Approved motions Defeated motions Majority vote of full board Choices for recommendations – approval, denial, or make no recommendation

25. Plan Commission Review 3 For a petition to change zoning, which motion would you prefer? Motion to deny Motion to recommend denial Motion to recommend denial because he is from out or town and we don’t know him Motion to recommend denial because the petitioner failed to show how increased traffic will not create a pedestrian hazard

26. Plan Commission Review 4 Consensus on procedural items Voting processes Secret ballot – not really Paper ballot with decisions announced Roll call – change order of voting Voice vote with split decisions followed up with roll call vote

27. Plan Commission Review 5 Rules of Procedure or By-Laws Get to know yours! Should spell out many details Attendance of members Conflicts of interest Ex parte communication Behavior of all participants

28. Plan Commission Review 6 You must live by your ordinance BUT – You can propose changes! Amendments are not that hard to do Be responsive to changing conditions Questions?

29. BREAK TIME – 5 MINUTES Questions/Answers will follow next presentation, so keep them handy Don’t forget your evaluation Suggestions are welcome!

30. AFTER THE BREAK More sources of information Boards of Zoning Appeals KK Gerhart-Fritz, AICP The Planning Workshop

31. Citizen Training 2006 Land Use Update -- Video Seminar Series K.K. Gerhart-Fritz, AICP January 25, 2006

32. Need Help But Don’t Know Where to Turn? An offer you can’t refuse: Indiana Planning Association’s Citizen Planner Training Manual FREE DO IT YOURSELF (NO TRAINER) DO IT WHEN YOU WANT NO NEED TO TRAVEL What’s Not to Like?

33. Indiana Planning Association’s Citizen Planner Training Manual 1: Plan Commission Basics 2: BZA Basics 4: Communications 5: Rules of Procedure 6: Ethics 7: Comprehensive Plans 8: Zoning Ordinance 9: Subdivision Control Ordinance 10: Site Plan Review

34. Indiana Planning Association’s Citizen Planner Training Manual www.indianaplanning.org/citizen Chapter 3, avoiding pitfalls, coming soon

35. BZA Basics 2006 Land Use Update -- Video Seminar Series K.K. Gerhart-Fritz, AICP January 25, 2006

36. Disclaimers See IC 36-7-4-918.6 for counties with populations of 400,001 - 699,999 or 200,001 - 299,999 Metropolitan Development Commissions have additional regulations related to the BZA. See IC 36-7-4-918.8

37. Test your BZA Knowledge: The Board of Zoning Appeals is a quasi-judicial body, meaning: a) they have to wear long black robes at the meetings b) the board's actions are similar to those conducted by courts c) every new member gets a gavel, and they can fix traffic tickets

38. BZA Powers and Duties BZA has 3 duties: 1) Hear variance requests Developmental standards variances Variances of use (not available to area plan commissions) 2) Hear special exception /conditional use requests 3) Hear appeals from administrative decisions

39. Rules for VARIANCES #1 -- A variance is not automatically a bad thing! It is a way a community can solve problems created by applying the generalities of the zoning ordinance to specific situations -- it introduces some needed flexibility to zoning regulations.

40. Rules for VARIANCES #2 -- Caution: Variances are meant to be a safety valve, but may become a "back-door" way of thwarting the zoning ordinance. Example: Asking for a variance to allow more density in a residential zoning district, instead of asking for the property to be rezoned to a district with a higher density.

41. Rules for VARIANCES #3 -- It is the applicant's responsibility to prove the request satisfies all the variance criteria; it is not the responsibility of the board of zoning appeals to make the case for them! You should require that the applicant submit written evidence that they meet all the criteria.

42. Rules for VARIANCES #4 -- While there is no maximum number of conditions that can be attached to a variance approval, if there are a great number, you may want to reexamine whether the proposed variance is really justified.

43. Rules for VARIANCES #5 -- Your job will be easier for you (and the applicant and the neighbors) if everyone understands what you must legally base your decision on -- read a brief explanation at the hearing and post a big sheet listing the criteria in the hearing room.

44. Are you Tough Enough? The BZA can not legally decide their requests based on compassion, only on whether the state law variance criteria are met. This does not mean that a BZA member should be cold, mean or rude with an applicant, just that your compassion should not guide your decision.

45. Developmental Standards Criteria IC 36-7-4-918.5 (1) the approval will not be injurious to the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the community Consider whether granting the variance will hurt or potentially cause harm to your community -- why or why not, and what harm can befall it?

46. Developmental Standards Criteria IC 36-7-4-918.5 (2) the use and value of the area adjacent to the property included in the variance will not be affected in a substantially adverse manner Consider whether neighboring property will suffer any major negative impacts -- what impacts can the neighbors realistically expect?

47. Developmental Standards Criteria IC 36-7-4-918.5 (3) the strict application of the terms of the zoning ordinance will result in practical difficulties in the use of the property Consider what difficulties the owner would have developing the property according to the ordinance standards -- higher cost is not a practical difficulty

48. What is a Practical Difficulty? Consider defining in your rules -- Monroe County's BZA: Significant economic injury that: (A) Arises from strict application of the Zoning Ordinance to the conditions of a particular, existing parcel of property; (B) Is not as significant as the injury associated with hardship (it does not deprive the parcel owner of all reasonable economic use of the parcel) (C) Is clearly more significant than compliance cost.

49. Adding Extra Criteria for Developmental Standards Variances Indiana Code says your local ordinance may establish a stricter standard than the "practical difficulties" standard: The variance granted is the minimum necessary. The variance granted does not correct a hardship caused by an owner, previous or present, of the property.

50. Use Variance Criteria IC 36-7-4-918.4 (1) the approval will not be injurious to the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the community This is same criterion used for developmental standards variances Consider whether granting the variance will hurt or potentially cause harm to the city or county -- why or why not, and what harm can befall them?

51. Use Variance Criteria IC 36-7-4-918.4 (2) the use and value of the area adjacent to the property included in the variance will not be affected in a substantially adverse manner This is same criterion used for developmental standards variances Consider whether neighboring property will suffer any major negative impacts -- what impacts can the neighbors realistically expect?

52. Use Variance Criteria IC 36-7-4-918.4 (3) the need for the variance arises from some condition peculiar to the property involved Consider whether there is some unique problem with the site that makes it unable to meet ordinance standards -- what is it?

53. Use Variance Criteria IC 36-7-4-918.4 (4) the strict application of the terms of the zoning ordinance will constitute an unnecessary hardship if applied to the property for which the variance is sought Consider what it would be like if the site were developed under the terms of the zoning ordinance -- what would the difficulties be?

54. What is an "unnecessary hardship"? Consider defining in your rules -- according to Monroe County: Significant economic injury that: (A) Arises from the strict application of this ordinance to the conditions of a particular, existing parcel of property; (B) Effectively deprived the parcel owner of all reasonable economic use of the parcel; and (C) Is clearly more significant than compliance cost or practical difficulties.

55. Use Variance Criteria IC 36-7-4-918.4 (5) the approval doesn't interfere substantially with the adopted comprehensive plan Consider whether there are any major conflicts with the comprehensive plan -- what are they?

56. Adding Extra Criteria for Use Variances Indiana Code does not allow your local ordinance to establish any additional standards

57. Test your BZA Knowledge: a) when the board determines it meets the "no harm-no foul" test b) when it meets all of the variance criteria c) when no one speaks against it

58. Test your BZA Knowledge: a) when you don't have a quorum b) if the applicant is a jerk c) if all variance criteria haven't been met

59. What is a Special Exception? AKA a special use, conditional use or contingent use No definition in Indiana Code, but it is generally understood to be a use of property that is allowed by a zoning ordinance under specified conditions -- something that needs to be considered on a site specific basis.

60. What can be a Special Exception? Indiana Code leaves it up to local government to define what uses in what zoning districts should be special exceptions Common examples include institutional uses (i.e., schools and churches), drive-through businesses, etc.

61. Special Exception Criteria Indiana Code does not specify criteria for special exceptions, leaving it to the discretion of local government. Some communities use a general set of criteria for most, if not all, special exceptions, while others establish a separate set of criteria for each special exception use.

62. Rules for SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS #1 -- Your community needs to codify special exception criteria -- the better your criteria, the easier your decision will be

63. Rules for SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS #2 -- One set of rules may not fit every special exception….

64. Sample Special Exception Criteria 1. Safe vehicular and pedestrian access, including emergency vehicles 2. Adequate off street parking 3. Refuse and service areas are provided 4. All utilities necessary for this use are available 5. Screening and buffering are appropriate

65. Sample Special Exception Considerations 6. Proposed signs and exterior lighting don’t cause safety problems (glare,etc.) and are compatible with other properties 7. The proposed use complies with minimum setbacks and other open space requirements 8. The proposed use is in harmony with the neighborhood, will not cause undue noise, traffic, odors, safety, or environmental hazards, and does not have an adverse effect on neighboring property.

66. Appeals From Administrative Decisions IC 36-7-4-918.1 BZA reviews appeals from an official, hearing officer, or staff under the zoning ordinance; a board or other body (except a plan commission) in relation to the enforcement of the zoning ordinance; or a board or other body (except a plan commission) in relation to the enforcement of an ordinance adopted under this chapter requiring the procurement of an improvement location or occupancy permit.

67. Rule for APPEALS #1 -- Hearing an occasional appeal is not a bad thing -- it forces you to re-examine some of the “gray areas”

68. Appeals From Administrative Decisions The BZA may reverse, affirm, or modify the order, requirement, decision, or determination being appealed. For this purpose, Indiana Code gives the BZA all the powers of the official, officer, board, or body from which the appeal is taken.

69. BZA Contact Planning staff may file a staff report with the BZA relating to the case No one else may contact any BZA member before the hearing with intent to influence the member's action.

70. Required Rules of Procedure IC 36-7-4-916 1) filing of appeals; 2) application; 3) notice; 4) conduct of hearings; and 5) whether a variance is for use or development standards

71. Findings of Fact IC 36-7-4-915 In addition to minutes, all BZA actions require the preparation of FINDINGS OF FACT to support that decision.

72. Findings of Fact It is not enough to make the required statutory determinations in the words of the ordinance (e.g., stating, "the approval will not be injurious to the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the community") Carlton v. BZA of City of Indianapolis, 1969, 245 NE2d 337, 252 Ind. 56)

73. Findings of Fact The BZA must add a "because" to each of the criterion, with a corresponding explanation Trial courts are to remand appeals of BZA decisions back to the BZA to make findings if the BZA has not previously done so Habig v. Harker, App. 1 Dist.1983, 447 NE2d 1114

74. Findings of Fact Indiana case law has held that it was acceptable for BZA to take over 3 months to adopt findings of fact after the hearing and decision McBride v. BZA of Evansville-Vanderburgh Area Plan Commission, App. 1 Dist.1991, 579 NE2d 1312

75. Findings of Fact While this delay may have been acceptable to the court, the BZA should stay current. This can be done by either adopting findings: as part of the motion on the case (either prepared by staff in advance to support the staff recommendation or proposed by a BZA member with the motion, using a self-prepared worksheet or petitioner's written application to cite the findings), or at the next BZA meeting, which have been prepared in the interim by planning staff, the BZA's legal counsel or a board member.

76. Alternate Members IC 36-7-4-909 If a BZA member has a direct or indirect financial interest, Indiana code allows an alternate member to participate in that hearing or decision in place of the regular member.

77. RULES for Alternate Members #1 -- Make appointments in advance and outline the process for alternates in the BZA's rules.

78. Are you Working too Much? Is there a waiting list to get on a BZA agenda? Do your BZA meetings last until the wee hours of the next morning? Are you scheduling special BZA meetings just to accommodate petitions?

79. BZA Solutions If you answered “YES!”, your BZA could probably benefit from one or both of the following actions: Amend the Zoning Ordinance to reflect frequently granted variances Appointing a Hearing Officer to hear cases

80. What is a Hearing Officer? An appointed staff member, board member, or attorney who can conduct hearings on certain cases and approve or deny them. The hearing officer acts in place of the Board of Zoning Appeals.

81. Hearing Officers This works best on "routine" cases where there is little public opposition or no need to burden the petitioner or BZA with the full process.

82. Hearing Officer Benefits Reduce the regular caseload of the BZA by removing minor, non-controversial cases Minor cases can be processed through the system much more quickly than if they went to the BZA Informal setting is more comfortable and user-friendly for petitioners

83. Implementing the Hearing Officer Process: Subject to Indiana Statutes: IC 36-7-4-923 and 924 Adopt an amendment to the zoning ordinance which enables the Hearing Officer process Adopt an amendment to the Plan Commission/ BZA rules and procedures to enable the process (Hears cases in place of BZA, but subject to the rules & procedures of the Plan Commission)

84. Questions? K.K. Gerhart-Fritz, AICP The Planning Workshop 317-598-0273, [email protected]

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