Board of Zoning Appeals

Board of Zoning Appeals

The establishment of the Board of Zoning Appeals is best described in Chapter 13 of the Zoning Resolution:

“In order that the objectives of this Resolution may be more fully and equitably achieved, that there shall be provided a means for competent interpretation of this Resolution, that adequate but controlled flexibility be provided in the application of this Resolution, that health, safety, and welfare of the public is secured, and that justice is dispensed, there is hereby established a Township Board of Zoning Appeals in accordance with Chapter 519 of the Revised Code of the State of Ohio as amended. The Board of Zoning Appeals shall perform its duties and exercise its powers as provided by Chapter 13 of the Zoning Resolution.

The BZA is a quasi-judicial body that hears appeals from administrative decisions and reviews and authorizes requests for variances and conditional use permits. The BZA also may revoke an authorized variance or conditional use certificate for the extraction of minerals, if any of the conditions of the variance or certificate has been violated. In addition, if the zoning resolution regulates surface mining as a conditional use under R.C. §519.141, the BZA will hear such requests.

Meetings of the Board of Zoning Appeals are conducted in the Lafayette Township Safety Services Building. 6367 Technology Ln, Medina, OH 44256 when scheduled.  The meetings are generally held at 7:00 p.m.

Every public hearing is advertised in the legal notice section of the newspaper ten (10) days before the hearing date as defined by law and notices are sent to adjoining property owners.

Members of the Board of Zoning Appeals are appointed for five-year terms by the Board of Township Trustees. Alternate members of the Board are appointed for three year terms. 

The BZA holds Public Hearings on the following applications: 

  • Change in Non-Conforming Use
  • Conditionals
  • Extension of Non-Conforming use
  • Variances
  • Administrative Appeals
Types of Variance

There are two types of variances the board may grant, each requiring different considerations.

Area Variance

An Area Variance is the most common as it does not involve a change of use or use of land not permitted in the particular zoning district the property is located in. An Area Variance is normally granted on the basis of a practical difficulty. Common examples of an Area Variance include:

  • An oversize residential garage for the size of the lot
  • Privacy fence height in excess of allowed
  • Location of a garage, house, or a building closer to the lot line than normally permitted, and
  • Construction of a single-family dwelling on a prior recorded lot that is smaller than one currently required for new lot creation.

In applications for area variances, the practical difficulty is normally due to the size, shape, or topography of the property; the location of existing structures, or the desire to preserve a large tree or other desirable landscape feature.

The board, in the case of an Area Variance, is required to weigh the requested variance against the following criteria:

  • How substantial the variation is in relation to the requirement
  • The effect, if the variance is allowed, of the increased population density that is produced on available government facilities (fire, water, garbage, etc.)
  • Whether a substantial change will be produced in the character of the neighborhood or a substantial detriment to adjoining properties will be created
  • Whether the difficulty can be alleviated by some method, feasible for the applicant to pursue, other than by a variance
  • Whether in view of the manner in which the difficulty arose, and considering all of the above factors, the interests of justice will be served by allowing a variance.
Use Variance

The Use Variance is seldom granted. A Use Variance may be granted only when an applicant can demonstrate an unnecessary hardship so severe that it would require the use of the land not normally permitted to overcome the hardship. Examples of use variances include:

  • Permitting churches in non-residential zoning districts (U.S. Supreme Court rulings dictate such permits in most cases)
  • A cellular communications tower in a rural location or on an extremely small parcel that could not be used for any other purpose, and
  • Appropriate adaptive re-use of a school or church in a residential district.

In cases of a use variance, the proof of unnecessary hardship is placed on the applicant and the following must be demonstrated:

  1. The land in question cannot yield a reasonable return if used only for a purpose allowed in the zone, or as a legal nonconforming use within that zone.
    • The mere fact that the individual owner may suffer financial hardship or the fact that another permitted use may allow the sale of the property for a better price, or permit a larger profit, does not justify the granting of a variance.
    • A showing by dollars and cents proof is required for showing a lack of reasonable return.
    • A showing of present loss is not adequate in establishing a lack of reasonable return. The applicant must demonstrate that the return for each and permitted use under the Ordinance.
  2. The plight of the owner is due to unique circumstances and not to general conditions in the neighborhood.
    • A unique circumstance results from sources beyond the control of the individual, must not be shared by others in similar circumstances, and cannot be self-inflicted or financial.
    • Unique circumstances relate only to the property and exist when legal restrictions, the contour of the land, the shape of the lot, or other physical restrictions create unique circumstances not incurred by one’s neighbor.
  3. The use sought to be authorized by variance will not alter the essential character of the locality. Any use that would alter or disrupt a neighborhood or district, when such district is in accordance with a comprehensive plan and adopted in the Zoning Regulations, should not be permitted.

Commercial and Residential projects which require review outside of the requirements specified in the Zoning Resolution must go before the Board of Zoning Appeals. The Board of Zoning Appeals will review all applications related to the following:

Variance Application (Area and Use)

Conditional Use Application (Existing and Changes)

Non-Conforming Use Application (Expansions and Changes)

Administrative Appeal Application

An applicant must submit the necessary application and schedule a meeting with the Zoning Inspector to review the application prior to placement on a Board of Zoning Appeals agenda.

Granting Variances

When practical difficulties, unnecessary hardship or results inconsistent with the general purpose of the Zoning Ordinance result through the strict and literal interpretation and enforcement of the provisions thereof, the Board has the authority, subject to the provisions of this chapter, to grant upon such conditions as it may determine, such variances from the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance as may be in harmony with its general purpose and intent, so that the spirit of the Zoning Ordinance shall be observed, public safety, health and welfare secured and substantial justice done.

The Board may grant a variance as applied for or a variance constituting a modification thereof. In granting a variance, the Board may attach thereto such conditions relating to the location of the proposed structure or use, or the duration of the variance as it may deem necessary in order to further the purposes of the Zoning Ordinance. The Board may require such evidence and guarantee or bond as it may deem necessary to insure that all such conditions so attached are being and will be complied with.

Findings Needed to Grant a Variance

When granting a variance, the Board must find that:

  • The strict application of the provisions of the Zoning Code would result in practical difficulties or unnecessary hardship inconsistent with the general purpose and intent of the Zoning Code.
  • There are exceptional or extraordinary circumstances or conditions applying to the property involved or the intended use or development o the property that does not apply generally to other properties or uses in the same zoning district.
  • The granting of such variance will not be of substantial detriment to the public interest or to adjacent property or improvements in such district in which the variance is sought, and will not materially impair the purpose of the Zoning Ordinance.

In accordance with the State of Ohio Sunshine Law, all meetings of the Board of Zoning Appeals are open to the public.

The current Board of Zoning Appeals members are as follows:

Justin Peroli
Board of Zoning Appeals, Chairman
Term expires: December 31, 2024
Curtis Perkins
Board of Zoning Appeals, Vice-Chairman
Term expires: December 31, 2027
Mike Meden
Board of Zoning Appeals, Member
Term expires: December 31, 2026
William Lister
Board of Zoning Appeals, Member
Term expires: December 31, 2025
Vera Milbrandt
Board of Zoning Appeals, Member
Term expires: December 31, 2023
Simon Bartos
Board of Zoning Appeals Alternate Member
Term expires: December 31, 2024
Karen Schoonover
Zoning Secretary


Contact Information

Lafayette Township

6776 Wedgewood Road
Medina, Ohio 44256

(330) 725-6515

Administrative Office

Office Hours

M- W- F

8 a.m. - 2 p.m.

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