Zoning Board of Appeals / Zoning Variances

Zoning Variances

Zoning variances are intended to provide administrative relief from a zoning provision that causes practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship for a property owner, due to unique circumstances of the property. In other words, a zoning variance is official permission to "violate" a specific ordinance requirement when certain findings have been made. Only the Zoning Board of Appeals can grant variances. The "Zoning Enabling Acts" required that a Zoning Board of Appeals be established to consider requests for variances.

There are four types of variances: area / dimension (non-use) variances; use variances; administrative reviews; and interpretation variances. A Zoning Variance his is the most common variance request. A non-use variance addresses issues such as the height of a building, setback of a building, and area of a sign.

The Area / Dimension (Non-Use) Variances Application (PDF) can be filled out online, plus application procedures, click on the following link:

Use Variance

A use variance permits a use of land that is not otherwise permitted in that zoning district. This, effectively, rezones the parcel without legislative (City Council) action. Use variances are considered inappropriate except when the property cannot be reasonably used as it is presently zoned and other attempts to obtain local approval (e.g., through rezoning) have been denied.

The Use Variance Application and Criteria for Approval (PDF) can be filled out online.

Administrative Review

The Zoning Board of Appeals can hear and decide appeals where it is alleged that there is an error in an order, requirement, permit, decision or refusal made by an official, board or commission in carrying out or enforcing any provisions of the Zoning Ordinance. Such appeals must be filed within 30 days of the date of the order, decision, refusal or requirement being appealed.

The Administrative Review Application (PDF) can be filled out online.


The Zoning Board of Appeals has the authority to hear and decide requests for interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance text, including the zoning map.

For more information on this type of request, please view the Interpretation Application (PDF).

Time Required

The average time required to complete a Zoning Board of Appeals request is less than 30 days. The applicant should consult the Planning Department for advice regarding the zoning appeal request.



The Petitioner submits appropriate application and any accompanying documentation as required above to the City Planning Department along with a $400 filing fee. Checks must be made payable to The City of Midland. The application and any accompanying documentation should be received at least 3 weeks before the next scheduled Zoning Board of Appeals meeting in order to have the appeal heard at that meeting.

Planning Department

  • Places a notice of the public hearing in the newspaper at least 10 days prior to the date of the hearing
  • Except for an Ordinance interpretation, all property owners and occupants of all single- and two-family dwellings within 300 feet of the site are notified of the public hearing by First-Class Mail at least 10 days prior to the date of the hearing
  • Prepares a staff report for the Zoning Board of Appeals

Zoning Board of Appeals

  • Receives the application and staff report from Planning Department staff
  • A copy of the Board’s decision shall be mailed to the applicant
  • The decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals is final
  • Persons objecting to the decision may appeal to the Circuit Court

The Board usually makes its determination at the same meeting as the public hearing. However, additional information may be needed before a decision can be made. In this instance, the Board shall make its decision within a reasonable amount of time.