Variances and Appeals


Variances allow individual properties or buildings to exceed the standards of the zoning district that the property is located in. Variances may be granted when the applicant for the variance establishes that there are practical difficulties in complying with the zoning ordinance. Economic considerations alone do not constitute practical difficulties. A use variance (i.e. allowing a use that is not permitted within the zoning district) cannot be granted.

To approve a variance, the request must meet all five of the following standards:

  1. The variance request is in harmony with the purposes and intent of the ordinance.
  2. The variance is consistent with the comprehensive plan.
  3. The property owner proposes to use the property in a reasonable manner.
  4. There are unique circumstances to the property which are not created by the landowner.
  5. Granting of the variance does not alter the essential character of the locality.

A variance requires a public hearing and approval from the Boards of Appeals and Adjustments. The Planning Commission serves as the Board of Appeals and Adjustments. Neighboring property owners will be notified of the public hearing and a public hearing notice will be published in the Dakota County Tribune. The City Code addresses Variances within Section 11-12-2.


City staff interprets the Zoning Ordinance when approving, denying, or conditioning permits. Property owners and residents request an interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance from the Board of Appeals by submitting an Administrative Appeal application. The Planning Commission has approval authority on site plan reviews and variances (when the Planning Commission is serving as the Board of Appeals and Adjustment). Applicants and residents can appeal the Planning Commission's decision to the City Council by submitting an Appeals of the Planning Commission application within ten (10) days of the Planning Commission ruling. The City Code addresses Appeals within Section 11-12-3.