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Board of Zoning Appeals

The Board of Zoning Appeals (BOZA) is in independent board composed of five (5) members authorized to hear appeals in matters relating to all zoning ordinances and to review zoning ordinance interpretations made by the Zoning Administrator’s Office. The Board acts somewhat like a court, it is called a quasi-judicial body and is required to follow accepted procedures and to fairly evaluate the relevant facts in each case that comes before it. The county legislative body is the appointing power of the members of such board.

BOZA is supported by an administrative staff that receives and reviews applications. The staff is also responsible for sending out notification of pending appeals to interested parties. BOZA works closely with the Zoning Administrator’s Office and other agencies to gather information that is useful and relevant to the outcome of an appeal.

Before you can apply for a Board of Zoning Appeals hearing, you must meet with staff at the Zoning Administrator’s Office (Old County Courthouse, 100 E. Main Street, 423-753-1753). Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Powers and Procedures of the Board of Zoning Appeals

The Board of Zoning Appeals shall have the power to hear and decide appeals where it is alleged there is an error in any order, requirement, decision or determination made by an administrative official.

Where there are practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships in the way of carrying out the strict letter of the Washington County, Tennessee Zoning Ordinance, the Board of Zoning Appeals shall have the power, in the passing upon appeals, to authorize such variance from the terms of the Zoning Ordinance as will not be contrary to the public interest in confirming with the standards set forth by the Zoning Ordinance section 905.

The Board of Zoning Appeals shall determine the appropriateness of proposed changes to nonconforming uses or structures.

To call on any department for assistance in its duties; and it shall be the duty of such department to render all such assistance as may reasonably be required.

To compel attendance of witnesses at hearings and to administer oaths.

To hold at least one scheduled meeting per month and give notice of such meetings as required by law.

The purpose of the variance is to modify the strict application of the specific requirements of this ordinance in the case of exceptionally irregular, narrow, shall, or steep lots, or other exceptional physical conditions, whereby such strict application would result in practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship which would deprive an owner of the reasonable use of his land. The variance shall be used only where necessary to overcome some obstacle which is preventing an owner from using his property as the Zoning Ordinance intended.

In accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated Section 13-7-109, the Board of Zoning Appeals shall not grant a variance without an affirmative finding of fact on each of the following standards based on evidence presented by the applicant:

  1. Variances shall be granted only where special circumstances or conditions (such as exceptional narrowness, topography, or sitting) fully described in the findings of the Board of Zoning Appeals, do not apply generally in the district.
  2. The alleged difficulty or hardship has not been created by the actions of the applicant or any previous actions of any person having an interest in the property after the adoption of the Washington County Zoning Ordinance.
  3. The specific conditions cited are unique to the subject property and generally not prevalent to other properties in the general area.
  4. Variances shall not be granted to allow a use otherwise excluded from the particular district in which requested.
  5. That the literal enforcement of the Zoning Ordinance will result in unnecessary hardship.
  6. Financial gain is not the primary basis for granting the variance. Attempts to improve business profits do not constitute adequate hardship to grant a variance.
  7. The granting of any variance is in harmony with the general purposes and intent of this ordinance and will not be injurious to the neighborhood, detrimental to the public welfare, or in conflict with the comprehensive plan for development. That by granting the permit, substantial justice will be done.
  8. For reasons fully set forth in the findings of the Board of Zoning Appeals, the aforesaid circumstances or conditions are such that the strict application of the provisions of this ordinance would deprive the applicant of any reasonable use of his land. Mere loss in value shall not justify a variance; there must be a deprivation of beneficial use of land.
  9. Any variance granted under the provisions of this section shall be the minimum adjustment necessary for the reasonable use of the land.