This week our group was assigned the task of determining what processes we would have to go through in order to receive a variance to build a cupola on top of our building. Fortunately for us (and our client), the property has recently been rezoned to b-1-a, which has no set back limit and no height requirement. Therefore, there will be no extra hoops to jump through, and we may go ahead and build the cupola. Basically, our client will be able to build on 100% of his property, and may legally build a skyscraper if he so chooses. We also learned the finicky nature of approved variances. Generally, the variance must be unique to the ground, and must give some sort of undue hardship on the party seeking the variance. However, many variances do not meet these standards, and are nevertheless granted. The question then becomes, should something more be done to abide by the letter of the law, or do we like the freedom that comes with allowing the elected board to act arbitrarily? In our scenario, (assuming that we actually did need a variance) the practice is a good thing; as it is highly unlikely that not having a cupola would cause any kind of undue hardship.
In reference to our sky scraper, there are many reasons why this might not be a good idea. One of these reasons may be that it is completely surrounded by an historic district, and something more appropriate to the neighborhood would be our recommendation. That being said, we look forward to discussing issues surrounding the historic district in our next couple of classes.