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An Introduction to Zoning Variances

Darwin Horan

For more than two decades, Darwin Horan has worked in the land development and home building industry in Colorado. The former president of the Denver division of D.R. Horton, he leads Ventana Capital as president and CEO. In this capacity, Darwin Horan controls one of the state’s largest real estate portfolios, handling construction projects and land entitlement.

There are several forms of land entitlement, including zoning variances. These are granted in unusual circumstances and allow property owners to use their land in a different way than the plot was originally zoned. It is an exception to a zoning restriction and is only granted by the local government if owners can show there are valid reasons for the variance and prove their intended use of the land will not adversely affect property values or use in the surrounding neighborhood.

Zoning variances come in two forms: use and area variances. Most owners request an area variance, which allows them to add a second story or extension to a building without worrying about physical requirement issues imposed by the property’s original zoning. Use variances are sought by owners who plan on using their property in a different way than local zoning standards allow.

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