A variance is a request for permission to deviate from the guidelines outlined in Section 27-442 (the "Regulation Tables") of the Prince George's County Zoning Ordinance. These guidelines regulate lot size, lot width, building height, building setbacks from property lines, and the percentage of property covered with parking and structures. 

Section 27-230 of the Zoning Ordinance states that a variance may only be granted when the Board of Zoning Appeals finds that: ( 1.) A specific parcel of land has exceptional narrowness, shallowness, or shape, exceptional topographic conditions, or other extraordinary situations or conditions; (2) The strict application of this subtitle will result in peculiar and unusual practical difficulties to, or exceptional or undue hardship upon the owner of the property; and (3) The variance will not substantially impair the intent, purpose, or integrity of the General Plan or Master Plan. All of these criteria must apply. 

Under certain circumstances, the Board of Zoning Appeals (or the Planning Board or District Council in conjunction with certain zoning cases) may grant the property owner relief from the strict application of the Zoning Ordinance. Such relief may be granted on the basis of facts presented at a public hearing, when the Board, Council or Planning Board finds that there exists exceptional conditions of shape, topography, or other extraordinary situations peculiar to the specific property which could result in unusual practical difficulties or undue hardship to the property owner, provided that such variance may be granted without causing substantial impairment to the intent, purpose and integrity of the General Plan. 

A variance is distinguished from a special exception by virtue of the fact that a variance depends upon a finding of the existence of practical difficulty or unusual hardships in the application of the Zoning Ordinance to a particular piece of property by reasons of conditions unique to that property. A special exception requires no such finding, merely a finding that the conditions stated in the Zoning Ordinance have been satisfied. 

Download the Variance Application below:

Variance Instructions and Application

If a variance is approved that permits the erection of a building or structure, the variance will not be valid for more than two (2) years, unless a building permit for the erection is obtained within this period and the construction is started and proceeds to completion in accordance with the terms of the decision and the permit. If a variance is denied, a variance request covering the same subject may not be filed within a 12-month period, and following a second denial, the request may be not be filed within an 18-month period. 

Within thirty (30) days from the date the Board issues a variance decision, any person, firm, corporation, or governmental agency who was a party to the Board's proceedings and is aggrieved by its decision may file an appeal to the Circuit Court of Prince George's County.