Court Ruling Prompts Z&P To Recommend New Language In Zoning Ordinance

July 16, 2008

A ruling by the Texas Supreme Court has prompted the West U. Zoning and Planning Commission to recommend an amendment to the zoning ordinance regarding variances. City Council will consider the first reading of an ordinance calling a public hearing on the issue.

In a 2006 variance case, City of Dallas v. Vanesko, the Supreme Court ruled that building a house in violation of a height limit was a “personal” or “self-created” condition that could not support the granting of a variance.

According to West U. City Manager Michael Ross, the city of Dallas approved submitted plans for a home, but later realized the plans had inadvertently been approved with the home eight feet higher than the city ordinance allowed. The Supreme Court ruling essentially said that the ordinance overruled the approval.

Ross says language in the ordinance contributed to the courts ruling, prompting the West U. Zoning and Planning Commission to add that language to the city’s ordinance.

The additional language would read, “A “special condition” or “hardship” that is self-created, personal or based only on financial reasons is not sufficient to support the issuance of a variance.”

The proposal would also clarify that the applicant carries the burden of proof when seeking a variance or special exception. According to the board’s preliminary report to council, the new language reflects current practice.

If council approves the first reading of the ordinance calling for a public hearing on the issue, it will come back for a second and final reading at the first August meeting and a public hearing will be set.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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