Council weighs proposal to cut fees for variances

December 20, 1992

Westminster residents will pay less to seek zoning variances or special exceptions if the City Council agrees to a proposal to slash application fees for variances by 70 percent and exceptions by 75 percent.

Council President William F. Haifley argued vainly at last week's council meeting that the changes, which apply only to owner-occupied dwellings, did not go far enough.

Mr. Haifley, who owns two apartment buildings in Westminster, said the fee reductions should apply across the board.

"What's the difference between my living in a home and wanting an apartment on the second floor and my living in a home and wanting an apartment next door?" he asked.

The council overrode his objections because of concern that an across-the-board reduction would give absentee landlords a break.

The application fee for a variance would drop from $500 to $150. A variance is usually required when homeowners want to build an addition or garage that extends into the rear or side yard and brings them closer to their neighbor's property line than the law allows.

Application fees for special exceptions would drop from $1,000 to $250. Special exceptions are for property uses not permitted as an automatic right and sometimes allowed with conditions.

A council committee recommended lowering the fees after finding that Westminster's charges were among the highest in the state.

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