1. Definitions. As used in this section:
(a) “Use variance” shall mean the authorization by the zoning board of appeals for the use of land for a purpose which is otherwise not allowed or is prohibited by the applicable zoning regulations.
(b) “Area variance” shall mean the authorization by the zoning board of appeals for the use of land in a manner which is not allowed by the dimensional or physical requirements of the applicable zoning regulations.
2. Orders, requirements, decisions, interpretations, determinations. The board of appeals may reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the order, requirement, decision, interpretation or determination appealed from and shall make such order, requirement, decision, interpretation or determination as in its opinion ought to have been made in the matter by the administrative official charged with the enforcement of such ordinance or local law and to that end shall have all the powers of the administrative official from whose order, requirement, decision, interpretation or determination the appeal is taken.
3. Use variances. (a) The board of appeals, on appeal from the decision or determination of the administrative official charged with the enforcement of such ordinance or local law, shall have the power to grant use variances, as defined herein.
(b) No such use variance shall be granted by a board of appeals without a showing by the applicant that applicable zoning regulations and restrictions have caused unnecessary hardship. In order to prove such unnecessary hardship the applicant shall demonstrate to the board of appeals that for each and every permitted use under the zoning regulations for the particular district where the property is located:
(i) the applicant cannot realize a reasonable return, provided that lack of return is substantial as demonstrated by competent financial evidence;
(ii) the alleged hardship relating to the property in question is unique, and does not apply to a substantial portion of the district or neighborhood;
(iii) the requested use variance, if granted, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood; and
(iv) the alleged hardship has not been self-created.
(c) The board of appeals, in the granting of use variances, shall grant the minimum variance that it shall deem necessary and adequate to address the unnecessary hardship proven by the applicant, and at the same time preserve and protect the character of the neighborhood and the health, safety and welfare of the community.
4. Area variances. (a) The zoning board of appeals shall have the power, upon an appeal from a decision or determination of the administrative official charged with the enforcement of such ordinance or local law, to grant area variances as defined herein.
(b) In making its determination, the zoning board of appeals shall take into consideration the benefit to the applicant if the variance is granted, as weighed against the detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood or community by such grant. In making such determination the board shall also consider:
(i) whether an undesirable change will be produced in the character of the neighborhood or a detriment to nearby properties will be created by the granting of the area variance;
(ii) whether the benefit sought by the applicant can be achieved by some method feasible for the applicant to pursue, other than an area variance;
(iii) whether the requested area variance is substantial;
(iv) whether the proposed variance will have an adverse effect or impact on the physical or environmental conditions in the neighborhood or district; and
(v) whether the alleged difficulty was self-created, which consideration shall be relevant to the decision of the board of appeals, but shall not necessarily preclude the granting of the area variance.
(c) The board of appeals, in the granting of area variances, shall grant the minimum variance that it shall deem necessary and adequate and at the same time preserve and protect the character of the neighborhood and the health, safety and welfare of the community.
5. Imposition of conditions. The board of appeals shall, in the granting of both use variances and area variances, have the authority to impose such reasonable conditions and restrictions as are directly related to and incidental to the proposed use of the property. Such conditions shall be consistent with the spirit and intent of the zoning ordinance or local law, and shall be imposed for the purpose of minimizing any adverse impact such variance may have on the neighborhood or community.
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