Appeals which are brought before the Zoning Board of Appeals generally seek relief from the strict application of the ordinances of the City of Novi and may include "Use" variances and "Non-use" or "Dimensional" variances.

Use Variances

Seek permission to use land for a purpose not otherwise permitted within the underlying zoning district.  A petitioner is expected to demonstrate unnecessary hardship, which will include some or all of the following criteria: (1) the land cannot be reasonably used as currently zoned; (2) the plight is due to unique circumstances associated with the particular parcel of property (not general neighborhood conditions); (3) the use will not alter the essential character of the area; (4) the problem is not self-created; and (5) the variance will not impair the intent or purpose of the Ordinance or the Master Plan.

Non-Use or Dimensional Variances

Seek modification of the strict application of the Zoning Ordinance when circumstances unique to the property cause practical difficulties for the property owner.  A petitioner is expected to demonstrate some or all of the following criteria: (1) that strict enforcement of the Ordinance unreasonably prevents the owner from using the property for a permitted use, or conforming to the Ordinance would be unnecessarily burdensome; (2) that the proposed variance will not negatively impact upon the other property owners affected by the variance; (3) that there is not a lesser variance which could remedy the problem; (4) that the need for the variance is due to the unique circumstances arising from the property; (5) that the need for the variance is not self-created.

Burden of Proof

At all times, the burden of proof remains with the Petitioner.  The Board does not need to present evidence to defeat a variance; it is the Applicant who needs to submit sufficient testimony and evidence sufficient to meet the criteria set forth herein.



  1. Where a Variance related to a sign is requested, a rendering, specimen, or "mock up" of the proposed sign, as well as a rendering of the size sign permitted by Ordinance (permitting a comparison) shall be available for inspection by the Board prior to consideration of the Variance.
  2. Where a residential homeowner seeks a dimensional variance, the Applicant shall have sought approval from the Homeowners Association, as well as informed adjacent neighbors and any other person directly affected by the proposed Variance.
  3. All documents or evidence, other than testimony, shall be filed in accordance with procedures of the City of Novi Department of Building and Safety, and in no event later than 14 days prior to the subject hearing. Any documents or evidence submitted later (or at the time of the Hearing) need not be considered or reviewed by the Board and the Board may only set such refusal aside upon a demonstration of abuse of discretion.  The Board my however, accept such materials for purposes of entry into the record of the hearing.
  4. In the event an Applicant does not appear in support of the Appeal, the Board may move to dismiss the Appeal for reason of non-appearance.  The applicant may obtain review of the initial petition by refiling, including the payment of necessary filing fees, by the Applicant.
  5. A pending application may be adjourned on request of the Applicant for good cause provided such request is made 7 or more days in advance of the hearing.  In the event of demonstrated hardship, including illness, adverse weather, or the like, the Board may table said petition to the next meeting.
  6. Cases shall be heard in the order filed with the City of Novi, with the intention that the earliest filed case will be heard first, provided this shall not preclude the Board from approving alterations in the Agenda.
  7. The Board shall have the right to limit cases to 15 per meeting and have the right to postpone additional cases to the next regularly scheduled meeting.