Variance Fees Aren’t Bringing in Big Bucks

Residents serious about asking the Wheeling Board of Zoning Appeals for a variance to expand their home closer to the property line must pay a $50 application fee.

But the money generated by the fees is not a source of revenue for the city of Wheeling, said Tom Connelly, assistant director of Economic and Community Development.

”It helps us recoup the cost of legal advertising and notifying neighbors by first class mail,” he said.

For example, if a resident wants a setback variance to expand a garage, others who live within 200 feet of the property must be notified before a decision is made during a public meeting. The process includes posting notices on utility poles in the area, mailing notifications directly to the impacted residents and publishing related legal advertisements in the newspaper. The fee also helps cover the cost of mailing information packets to zoning board members.

Connelly said the fee acts as a deterrent to anyone who is not serious about building something correctly or up to code.

In 2012, the board received $1,250 in variance-related fees and spent $900. Typically, the board ”breaks even,” he added.

”It’s not a significant source of income for the city,” Connelly said.

He said for those seeking a zone change for a property, such as from Residential to Commercial, a $100 fee is charged.

The board is scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in City Council Chambers, Room 103, City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St. The agenda includes requests for:

  • A height variance at 832 Main St. to allow for the construction of a deck to a garage roof.
  • A variance to reduce the rear yard setback side yard setback and for the expansion of a non-conforming structure at 1 Arlington Drive., Apt. 1, to allow for a garage addition with elevator.