Neighbors matter when a variance is considered

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By Jay Vincent
Regional Vice President, The Saint Consulting Group

Recently a turnaround victory on a project highlighted the importance of knowing exactly what abutting neighbors think and say about your project.  This is especially true when a developer is requesting a variance from the municipal code.  Why is it important?

A developer’s variance application typically sets forth a notification process to a defined area.  In a way, the law has specifically defined the area of residents that “matter” in the debate over your variance.  That notification area has now become the official zone of importance for the project.  If you manage that area well, you can keep the deciders on the project focused on only the opinions of residents in the notification area.

Frankly, developers ought to be happy about this.  The NIMBY zone has now been minimized from the whole town to a select few residents who reside near the project.  This means that the universe of people you must conduct outreach to have been significantly reduced making outreach more manageable.  So, when considering a variance for your project you might want to consider the following easy steps:

  1. Canvass the notification area in advance of application
  2. Constantly communicate with notification area
  3. Show up to your variance hearing with a solid understanding of neighbors opinions
  4. Get your neighbors to speak in support

Jay Vincent is regional vice president for The Saint Consulting Group, email, phone 312.970.5770 Ext 7501

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